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Ankle Sprain Essentials: How to Care for Yourself

Author: Niki L. Carayannopoulos, DO

Ankle sprains are some of the most common injuries – and they certainly aren’t unique to athletes or “active” people. While ankle sprains are fairly routine in sports like football and basketball, they may be just as likely to occur when you simply miss a step.

Today on the blog, I’d like to share with you an infographic from National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) that provides some helpful advice on how to care for an ankle sprain. (You can find the entire infographic reposted below.)

Whether you’re an athlete looking to get back out on the field as soon as possible… or simply want a healthy and safe return to your normal life… don’t miss out on the sound advice covered in this infographic. (Also, if you’re not sure whether you have a sprain or a strain, view this recent post to learn about the difference between the two injuries.)

Ankle Sprain: Fast Facts

NATA informs us that…

  • Approximately 28,000 ankle injuries occur in the U.S. each day.
  • It’s believed 45% of all athletic injuries are ankle sprains, making ankle sprain the most common sports injury.
  • Field hockey has the highest rate of ankle injuries and sprains. Other sports with high occurrences include volleyball, football, basketball, cheerleading, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, rugby, track and field, gymnastics and softball.
  • Once an ankle is sprained, it is at greater risk for repeat sprains. Multiple sprains can increase risk of ankle osteoarthritis.

Understanding the Phases of Ankle Sprain

There are two phases of ankle sprain: acute and subacute. In the acute phase, which can last for approximately two weeks, you may experience pain, swelling, and loss of function. In the subacute phase that follows you should have a restored range of motion, as well as improved strength and balance.

Treating & Preventing Ankle Sprains

In many cases, ankle sprains can be quite easy to treat. Treatment typically follows the “RICE” method of Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Learn more about how you can use this method for treating ankle sprains at home.

Of course, preventing ankle sprains in the first place is preferable. Here are four ways you can reduce your risk for ankle sprain:

  1. Participate in a lower body strength-training program.
  2. Wear shoes with ankle support.
  3. Use tape or braces during games and practices. (Athletes with previous ankle sprains who wore a brace or tape post-injury had ~70% fewer ankle injuries than athletes who did not.)
  4. If you’ve had a sprain in the past, consider working your way through a three-month prevention program that focuses on ankle strength, balance and motor control.

Schedule With a Houston Sports Medicine Doctor

Have more questions about ankle sprains and treatment? Schedule an appointment at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics by calling (713) 756-5546. You can also schedule your appointment online.

Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.