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Can I Treat a Sprained Ankle at Home?

Nov 10, 2023
Can I Treat a Sprained Ankle at Home?
Spraining an ankle means that you’ve stretched or torn ligaments that hold and stabilize your ankle bones. Sprains come in a wide range of severity, from those you can treat at home to major injuries that require medical care.

Ankle sprains commonly result from sports participation, and they’re equally common in daily life when you step awkwardly over an uneven surface. It doesn’t take much to roll your foot over its outside edge, stretching the ligaments that hold the bones of your ankle together. 

Sprained ankles vary in severity from mild to severe. You can treat a sprained ankle successfully at home, though generally, only mild sprains respond adequately. More serious sprains require greater medical intervention. Bypassing adequate treatment raises your risk of complications. 

At HealthyU Clinics in Arizona, we see plenty of sprained ankles through our sports medicine specialization. We recommend that you schedule a visit for medical evaluation, even for minor sprains. It can make the difference between full recovery and an unstable ankle joint. 

When to seek emergency care

While you can treat some ankle sprains successfully at home, visit an emergency room if your sprain creates any of the following symptoms: 

  • Severe pain
  • Bruising
  • Excessive swelling
  • Joint deformation or distortion
  • Numbness in the ankle or foot
  • Inability to bear any weight on the affected foot

If a medical practitioner confirms that your sprain is minor, then you can likely treat yourself successfully. 

Treating a sprained ankle at home

The RICE method is the way to go after an ankle sprain, even if you need a medical evaluation. RICE is a mnemonic that helps you remember the simple steps that are handy for many musculoskeletal injuries. 


Get off your feet as soon as possible after a sprain. Continuing to bear weight on a sprained ankle can make the injury worse. Use crutches if you need to get around, but the best solution in the early stages after a sprain is complete rest and a focus on self-care. 


Cold compresses and ice packs help to keep both pain and swelling down. Don’t put ice directly on your skin. Instead, wrap an ice pack in a washcloth or tea towel. Ice the swelling for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours. Keep this up for the first 48 hours after your injury. 


This is why you have that elastic bandage at the back of the bathroom cupboard. Wrapping your ankle also helps to control swelling. Don’t wrap your ankle so tightly that it interferes with blood flow. The fluids that cause swelling need a way out, and an overly tight bandage prevents drainage. 


Get gravity on your side. Sitting or lying down with your injured ankle higher than the level of your heart encourages the drainage necessary to reduce swelling. In upright positions, it’s harder for your body to pump fluid up to your body, especially when you can’t walk to aid the pumping action. 

Control your pain with over-the-counter medications. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen take the edge off your pain and help reduce swelling. 

Contact the nearest location of HealthyU Clinics when you need a medical assessment or additional care for your sprained ankle. Call the most convenient office directly or use our online booking tool to schedule your visit today.