What to do with a sprained ankle

Ankle sprains are one of the most common forms of injury that occur while playing sports. A study has shown that people who return to activity within a few days after spraining their ankle get back on their feet faster compared to people who stop activity completely for a long period of time. It is important to start rehabiliation as soon as possible. 

Cause and Prevention

Injuries to the ligaments outside of the ankle are a common cause of pain in the ankle, and among the most common cause in athletes. Most ankle sprains dont require surgery unless there is complete rupture of the ligaments. It is important that the tissue in the ankle is stimulated with the right exercises to avoid new ankle sprains.

How to treat a sprained ankle

How to treat a sprained ankle


Treatment often consists of mobilization and balance exercises for the ankle. Your chiropractor can help to assess the ankle and give advice around finding the appropriate exercises.

Treatment Phase 1 

Immediately after the injury has occured. 

Aim: Limit and reduce swelling and pain

PRICE principle:

  • Protection – Protect the ankle to prevent further injury

  • Rest – Unload weight on the ankle by avoiding certain exercise

  • Ice – Ice the injury. This allows the blood vessels to contract and swelling decreases. Apply ice to the effected area for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours

  • Compression – Pressure around the ankle will reduce swelling

  • Elevation – Keep the injured ankle raised above the level of the heart to reduce blood collection around your ankle which can further help to reduce swelling

Treatment Phase 2 

To be started a few days after injury on the advise of your chiropractor.

Aim: Rehabillitation to improve movement in the ankle and help prevent further injury

When the swelling has reduced, treatment focuses on the movement of the ankle. Your chiropractor can examine your ankle and assess which movements are managable and which movements have been reduced due to the ankle sprain. The rehabilitation phase helps to restore normal movment to the ankle and then once everything is moving a little bit better, treatment will focus on strengthening the ankle to improve coordination and balance. 


·      NHS (2019). Treatment. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sports-injuries/treatment/ [Accessed 9 Jun. 2019].

·      Bleakley, C. et al, 2007. The PRICE study (Protection Rest Ice Compression Elevation): design of a randomised controlled trial comparing standard versus cryokinetic ice applications in the management of acute ankle sprain. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, [Online]. 8:125. Available at: https://bmcmusculoskeletdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2474-8-125#Decs[Accessed 9 June 2019].

·       InformedHealth.org (2019). What are the treatment options for ankle sprains?. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279550/ [Accessed 9 Jun. 2019].