How to Wrap a Sprained Ankle

After taking a tumble, you immediately feel pain shooting from your ankle and realize it’s difficult to bear weight on it.

Bad news: You may have suffered an ankle sprain.

Before learning how to treat an ankle sprain, it’s important for you to understand what it actually is.

Heather Rosen, physician and medical director of the UPMC Urgent Care North Huntingdon, demonstrates how to wrap an ankle sprain yourself.

What Is a Sprained Ankle?

According to the National Institutes of Health, a sprain is defined as an injury to a ligament, which is tissue connecting two or more joints. When you sprain your ankle, one or more ligaments are either stretched or torn. All sorts of activities or accidents can result in a sprain, but they all usually involve bending or twisting your ankle to an extreme degree.

Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle

Symptoms of an ankle sprain include:

  • Pain.
  • Bruising.
  • Swelling.
  • Inability to move the foot.

Learning how to properly treat an ankle sprain can help prevent further damage. If you don’t have immediate access to a medical professional, you may need to wrap the injury yourself. Protecting a sprained ankle is critical to preventing further injury.

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How To Wrap A Sprained Ankle

Here’s a quick summary of how to wrap a sprained ankle with an elastic bandage wrap.

  • Begin your wrap several inches above the injured ankle.
  • Start your wrap on the inside of the leg and make two wraps around the ankle for stability.
  • Continue wrapping around the foot and ankle in a figure eight pattern.
  • Ensure you wrap the bandage above and below the joint.
  • Use Velcro or a fastener at the end to stabilize your wrap.

Tips for Wrapping an Ankle Sprain

Before you go about wrapping a sprained ankle, make sure you have the necessary supplies:

  • Scissors.
  • Soap and water (to clean your ankle before wrapping).
  • Elastic bandage.
  • Prewrap tape or locking tabs.

Important steps to remember when wrapping an ankle sprain are:

  • Wrap above and below the joint.
  • Wrap in a figure-eight pattern, overlapping the bandage.
  • Make sure the wrap is taut with no wrinkles.

Ankle Sprain Treatment

R.I.C.E. method

As with treating a wrist sprain, the R.I.C.E. method, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation, is a common treatment for ankle sprains. Use of ibuprofen or naproxen can help lessen inflammation, swelling, and pain. You may not be able to put all your weight on your foot but you should be able to walk on it.

When Should You See a Doctor for a Sprained Ankle?

At times, a severe sprain can mask a broken ankle. If the pain and swelling do not improve after a few days, you should see a doctor.

You may even consider using crutches the first few days to minimize pain and prevent further injury. Ice and elevate your ankle the first two to three days after your sprain for 20 minutes a few times a day to decrease swelling. Avoid putting any more weight than is necessary on your injured ankle and get plenty of rest.

In the future, you can avoid re-spraining your ankle by performing warm-up exercises before any physical activity or sports practice, wearing proper footwear, and taking frequent breaks if you begin to feel tired or weak.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About Urgent Care

Sometimes you need care right away, with no time to wait for an appointment. That’s where UPMC Urgent Care comes in. We offer prompt treatment for illnesses and injuries seven days a week, with no appointment necessary. With locations throughout Pennsylvania and Maryland, you can find immediate care close to you – even if your doctor’s office is closed. Our services include treatment for minor injuries and illnesses, physicals, prescription filling, and flu shots and immunizations. Wait times for minor injuries and illnesses are usually shorter than the Emergency Department, and we accept most major insurance. Visit our website to find a location close to you.