How to Wrap a Sprained Ankle

Ankle Sprains

After taking a tumble on or off the field, 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. 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.

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Sign You May Have Sprained Your Ankle

Common symptoms of a sprained ankle include pain, bruising, or swelling. In some cases, symptoms are too severe, disabling use of your ankle. 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.

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

How To Wrap A Sprained Ankle

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

Find out more information on wrapping wrist sprains and ankle sprains.

Key Points to Remember When Wrapping an Ankle Sprain

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

  • Scissors
  • Soap and water (to clean your ankle before wrapping)
  • Elastic bandage
  • Pre-wrap 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 50 percent.
  • Make sure the wrap is taut.

Treating an Ankle Sprain

Similar to a wrist sprain, the R.I.C.E. method, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation, is a common treatment for ankle sprains.

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.

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.

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.

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 12 hours a day, seven days a week. With several western Pennsylvania locations, plus more throughout the state, you can find immediate care close to you. Our services include treatment for minor injuries and illnesses, physicals, prescription filling, and flu shots and immunizations. Wait times are usually shorter than the emergency room for minor injuries and illnesses, and we accept most major insurance.