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Sprained Ankle

See Dr. Parikh and his team to diagnose a sprained ankle. He or she may order X-rays to make sure you don't have a broken bone in the ankle or foot. A broken bone can have similar symptoms of pain and swelling.

The injured ligament may feel tender. If there is no broken bone, Dr. Parikh and his team may be able to tell you the grade of your ankle sprain based upon the amount of swelling, pain and bruising. The physical exam may be painful. Dr. Parikh and his team may need to move your ankle in various ways to see which ligament has been hurt or torn.

If there is a complete tear of the ligaments, the ankle may become unstable after the initial injury phase passes. If this occurs, it is possible that the injury may also cause damage to the ankle joint surface itself.

Dr. Parikh and his team may order an MRI scan if he suspects a very severe injury to the ligaments, injury to the joint surface, a small bone chip or other problem. The MRI can make sure the diagnosis is correct. The MRI may be ordered after the period of swelling and bruising resolves.



Walking may be difficult because of the swelling and pain. You may need to use crutches if walking causes pain. Usually swelling and pain will last two days to three days. Depending upon the grade of injury, the doctor may tell you to use removable plastic devices such as castboots or air splints.

Most ankle sprains need only a period of protection to heal. The healing process takes about four weeks to six weeks. Dr. Parikh and his team may tell you to incorporate motion early in the healing process to prevent stiffness. Even a complete ligament tear can heal without surgical repair if it is immobilized appropriately. Even if an ankle has a chronic tear, it can still be highly functional because overlying tendons help with stability and motion. For a Grade 1 sprain, use R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compression and elevation):

  • Rest your ankle by not walking on it.

  • Ice should be immediately applied. It keeps the swelling down. It can be used for 20 minutes to 30 minutes, three or four times daily. Combine ice with wrapping to decrease swelling, pain and dysfunction.

  • Compression dressings, bandages or ace-wraps immobilize and support the injured ankle.

  • Elevate your ankle above your heart level for 48 hours.

All ankle sprains recover through three phases:

  • Phase 1 includes resting, protecting the ankle and reducing the swelling (one week).

  • Phase 2 includes restoring range of motion, strength and flexibility (one week to two weeks).

  • hase 3 includes gradually returning to activities that do not require turning or twisting the ankle and doing maintenance exercises. This will be followed later by being able to do activities that require sharp, sudden turns (cutting activities) such as tennis, basketball or football (weeks to months).


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may Prevention The best way to prevent ankle sprains is to maintain good strength, muscle balance and flexibility.

  • Warm-up before doing exercises and vigorous activities

  • Pay attention to walking, running or working surfaces

  • Wear good shoes

  • Pay attention to your body's warning signs to slow down when you feel pain or fatigue

Information obtain from