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Sprained Ankle

Sprained Ankle is a widespread lower limb injury.

Sprained Ankle (腳踝扭傷,俗稱「拗柴」) is a widespread lower limb injury. In most cases, minor sprains require just a short amount of rest. However, if there is severe pain and swelling in the ankle that makes it difficult to walk, or if the ankle cannot bear weight, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible and seek improvement through or physical therapy. 

The cause of sprained ankle 

  • Twisting your ankle on uneven ground surfaces 
  • Falling over 
  • Any sports that involve rapid movements or twisting of the ankle, including running, playing basketball, tennis, football, etc. 

Symptoms of sprained ankle 

Apart from the intense pain caused by the burning ankle, the affected area also has the following symptoms: 

  • Swelling 
  • Bruises 
  • It becomes taut when it is touched 
  • Loss of ankle balance - this can occur when the ligaments are completely torn or the ankle joint is completely dislocated 


How do I know it is a sprained ankle? 

Checking the ankle area 

  •  The doctor will check the injury clearly by touching and moving the affected area 

Radiography to check the ankle  

  • X-ray: to make sure there is no fracture 
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Check for ligaments, tendons and muscles damage, hidden small bone fragments, or other problems 
  • Ultrasound: Check stability and the severity of sprain of the ligaments as you move the ankle 


Injury level of sprained ankle 

Level 1 (Minor) 

  • Ligament tissue is slightly loosened and torn 
  • slight pain tightness and swelling around the ankle 

Level 2 (Medium) 

  • Partial ligament tear 
  • Moderate pain, tightness and swelling around the ankle 

Level 3 (Serious) 

  • Ligament is torn completely 
  • Bruises and swelling around the ankle 
  • Unstable to walk, ankle giving away symptoms


Treatments for sprained ankle 

Most ankle sprains do not require surgery; even torn ligaments can recover with adequate rest and physiotherapy treatment. The treatment and treatment process of a sprained ankle can be divided into three stages: 

Stage 1: Rest to relieve sprained ankle discomfort, protect ankles and reduce swelling 

Stage 2: Gradually restore range of motion, strength and stability 

Stage 3: Rehabilitation exercises, gradually returning to activities/sports If there is no serious problem, you can resume movements that involve rapid movements or twisting the ankle.  


Sprained ankle treatment at home 

This is suitable for minor injuries. The doctor will recommend RICE to treat the sprained ankle.  

  • Rest - Give your ankle adequate rest 
  • Ice - Apply ice immediately after ankle sprain, 3 to 4 times daily, 15 minutes each time. Compression - Covering the wound with a compression sock/ brace to prevent movement and support the affected area 
  • Elevate - Within the first 48 hours after injury, elevate your ankles to the level above your heart when lying down 


Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory analgesics such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help relieve pain, reduce swelling, and are suitable for minor burns. 

Auxiliary tools: Use crutches to assist walking when the injury is swollen and painful for 2-3 days. Inflatable ankle braces or plaster boots are suitable for moderate pain and can fix and support the ankle. High-grade ankle sprain requires wearing a plaster boot for 2-4 weeks. 

Physiotherapy: Rehabilitation treatments can prevent tightness, chronic ankle problems, and increase ankle strength 

How long does it take for a sprained ankle to heal? Most sprains will resolve after 2 weeks.   Severe sprains may take 2-3 months to return to normal. 


Prevention for ankle sprain 

The best way to prevent acute periostitis is to maintain muscle strength, balance and flexibility, in addition to: 

  • Warm up before exercising 
  • Take extra care when walking, running or working on uneven ground surfaces 
  • Wear appropriate shoes 
  • Slow down or even stop activities when you feel pain and fatigue 
  • Ankle strengthening and stability exercises 


OT&P recommendations 

You will have opportunities for all ages to struggle in different situations, so you should warm up before exercising. If you have the above symptoms or have any questions, you should make an appointment with your doctor or physio for an examination.  

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  1. Mayo Clinic. Sprained ankle. 13 Sept 2023 Retrieved from  
  1. Ortholnfo. Sprained ankle. 13 Sept 2023 Retrieved from  
  1. Cleveland Clinic. Sprained ankle. 13 Sept 2023 Retrieved from  
  1. City MD. Here's how to treat a sprained ankle. 13 Sept 2023 Retrieved from  

Information provided by:

Victor Chan headshot

Victor Chan

OT&P Healthcare

Please note that all medical articles featured on our website have been reviewed by qualified healthcare doctors. The articles are for general information only and are not medical opinions nor should the contents be used to replace the need for a personal consultation with a qualified medical professional on the reader's medical condition.