Ankle Sprain

Overview of Ankle Sprain

A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament. Ligaments connect bones together and help to stabilize joints. Ankle sprains happen when the foot twists, rolls, or turns beyond its normal motions.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Pain, especially with trying to move the ankle after the injury
  • Swelling
  • Bruising


The best way to prevent ankle sprains is to maintain good strength, muscle balance and flexibility:

  • Warm up prior to exercise
  • Wear appropriate supportive shoes
  • Pay attention to your body -- Slow down or stop when you feel pain or fatigue
  • Pay attention to walking, running or working surfaces


  • Rest: You may need to rest your ankle, either completely or partially, depending on how seriously your ankle is hurt. In some cases, crutches are necessary.
  • Ice: Using ice for the first two or three days will help to decrease pain, swelling, bruising and muscle spasms. Use ice on your ankle in 20 minute increments, allowing 20 minutes in between one application session and the next.
  • Compression: Wrapping your ankle will help to avoid excessive swelling and bruising.
  • Elevation: Raising your ankle will help to prevent the swelling from worsening and helps to reduce bruising.
  • Medications: Ibuprofen or Tylenol is usually best to help with the pain of a sprain.
  • Most ankle sprains need only a period of protection and modified activity to heal. The healing process takes about four to six weeks. However, incorporation of protected ankle motions, including ambulation, early in the healing process helps to prevent stiffness and facilitate return to normal functioning of the ankle.
  • Elastic tape or braces alone are usually not helpful after the ankle heals, as they will not provide enough support to prevent another injury. A program of ankle strengthening exercises will help to prevent re-injury by making the muscle stronger, providing protection to the ligaments.

How We Can Help

  • If you would like to be seen by our medical staff, please contact our Appointment Desk to schedule an appointment.
  • Also, our Advice Nurse service is available at no charge for all UC Davis students to discuss health concerns and the need for medical care.