It is important to treat your sprain promptly and properly to avoid ongoing pain and instability of your joint.
If you have a Grade I sprain, follow the R.I.C.E. guidelines:
- Rest your joint by not using it.
- Ice it to keep the swelling down.
- Compressive bandages to support your joint and keep it from moving.
- Elevate your joint as much as possible (preferably above your heart level) for 48 hours.
The swelling usually goes down within a few days.
If you have a Grade II sprain, follow the R.I.C.E. guidelines but allow more time for healing. Your doctor may immobilize or splint your sprained joint.
If you have a Grade III sprain, follow the guidelines for Grades I and II but you may be at risk for permanent joint instability and weakness.
Surgery is rarely needed to repair the damage, especially in competitive athletes. For severe sprains, your doctor may consider putting you in a cast or a cast-brace for two to three weeks. People who repeatedly sprain an ankle or other joint may need surgery to tighten their ligaments or to repair tears.
Physical therapy may help you begin bearing weight or using the joint. Increasing your flexibility and range of motion and strengthening the supporting muscles around the joint may help you make a more complete recovery. The last phase is activity and exercises routines to strengthen the muscles and ligaments.