Emergency Department and Minor Injury Unit
You have been given this information because you have been diagnosed with an ankle sprain.
A sprain is an injury to a ligament. Ligaments are strong band-like structures around joints which attach bones together and give support to joints.
A ligament can be injured, usually by being over-stretched during a sudden pull. The ligaments at the side of the ankle are the ones most commonly sprained.
Usually if there is a fracture present then this (or some evidence of a healing fracture) will be visible on that repeat x-ray. However, if the x-ray is normal the doctor who sees you will discuss the possible diagnoses and the management options available.
Symptoms of a sprain can include:
- pain around the affected joint
- being unable to use the joint normally or being unable to put weight on it
Treating an ankle sprain
Minor sprains and strains can usually be treated with self-care techniques, such as PRICE therapy (protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation). Generally, you should try to start moving a sprained joint as soon as it is not too painful to do so.
For the first 48-72 hours think of:
PRICE – Protect, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation
Do no HARM – no Heat, Alcohol, Running or Massage
Recovering from an ankle sprain
The length of time it takes to recover from a sprain depends on how severe it is. After an ankle sprain you will probably be able to walk a week or two after the injury.
You may be able to use your ankle fully after six to eight weeks, and you will probably be able to return to sporting activities after eight to 12 weeks
If needed, painkiller options include the following:
Paracetamol is usually recommended for painful sprains or strains.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) relieve pain and may also limit inflammation and swelling. You can buy some types (for example, ibuprofen) at pharmacies, without a prescription either topically as a cream, or as tablets. You should check the medication advice leaflet to ensure you are safe to take these as some patients with asthma or stomach ulcers may not be able to.
- The James Cook University Hospital, Marton Road, Middlesbrough, TS4 3BW
Telephone: 01642 850850
- The Friarage, Northallerton, North Yorkshire, DL6 1JG
Telephone: 01609 779911
- Redcar Primary Care Hospital, West Dyke Road, Redcar, TS10 4NW
Telephone: 01642 511000
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would like your feedback. If you wish to share your experience about your care and treatment or on behalf of a patient, please contact The Patient Experience Department who will advise you on how best to do this.
This service is based at The James Cook University Hospital but also covers the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, our community hospitals and community health services.