Ankle Sprain in Teens: Care Instructions

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Ankle ligaments and bones

Your Care Instructions

Your ankle hurts because you have stretched or torn ligaments, which connect the bones in your ankle.

Ankle sprains may take several weeks to several months to heal. Usually, the more pain and swelling you have, the more severe your ankle sprain is and the longer it will take to heal. You can heal faster and regain strength in your ankle with good home treatment.

It is very important to give your ankle time to heal completely, so that you do not easily hurt your ankle again.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Prop up the sore ankle on a pillow when you ice it or anytime you sit or lie down during the next 3 days. Try to keep it above the level of your heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Follow your doctor's directions for wearing a splint or elastic bandage. Wrapping the ankle may help reduce or prevent swelling.
  • Your doctor may give you a splint, a brace, an air stirrup, or another form of ankle support to protect your ankle until it is healed. Wear it as directed while your ankle is healing. Do not remove it unless your doctor tells you to. After your ankle has healed, ask your doctor whether you should wear the brace when you exercise.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your ankle for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • You may need to use crutches until you can walk without pain. If you do use crutches, try to bear some weight on your injured ankle if you can do so without pain. This helps the ankle heal.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If you have been given ankle exercises to do at home, do them exactly as instructed. These can promote healing and help prevent lasting weakness.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have chest pain, are short of breath, or you cough up blood.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse pain.
  • Your foot is cool or pale or changes colour.
  • You have tingling, weakness, or numbness in your toes.
  • Your cast or splint feels too tight.
  • You have signs of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness or swelling in your leg.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You have a problem with your splint or cast.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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