Ankle sprains
are common injuries that can result in lifelong problems. Some people with
repeated or severe sprains can develop long-term joint pain and weakness.
Treating a sprained ankle can help prevent ongoing ankle problems.

If an ankle sprain does not heal
correctly, the joint may become unstable, resulting in a weakened and easily
reinjured ankle. Proper initial care of your sprained ankle is critical.

  • A compression wrap helps decrease swelling.
    If swelling is kept to a minimum, it may help your ankle feel better.
  • Applying a compression wrap is easy and can be done at
  • Elastic bandages are inexpensive and available at most
  • You can wear a protective brace, such as a splint or a
    device to keep your ankle from moving (immobilizer), over a compression wrap.
    This can help prevent further injury to your ankle when you try to bear weight
    on it.

How to apply a compression wrap

To help control swelling,
some doctors recommend wrapping your ankle with an elastic bandage, also called
an ACE wrap. This product can be purchased at most drugstores. To apply a
compression wrap:

  • Cut several horseshoe-shaped pieces of cloth
    felt to form a 0.5 in. (1.3 cm)
    thick pad. The pad will be placed (open end up) under the anklebone
    to help keep fluid out of the hollow place under your anklebone.
  • Roll up the elastic bandage if it isn’t already.
    Hold your ankle at about a 90-degree angle. Start where your toes meet the body
    of your foot. Hold the loose end of the bandage at the side of your foot. Wrap
    the bandage around the ball of your foot once, keeping it somewhat taut with a
    light pull.
  • After this first wrap, slowly start circling your way
    around the arch of the foot. Pull the bandage diagonally from the bottom of the
    toes across the foot’s top and circle it around the ankle. Now bring the
    bandage diagonally across the top of the foot and under the arch in a
    figure-eight pattern.
  • When you get to the anklebone, wrap the
    bandage around the felt piece so it stays in place under the anklebone.
    Continue around the ankle and foot in a figure eight, moving toward the heel on
    the bottom and toward the calf at the top of the eight. The wrap should cover
    the entire foot and end several inches above the ankle.
    Most compression wraps are self-fastening or come with clip fasteners. If not,
    use tape to secure the end.
  • The wrap should be snug but should not
    cut off circulation to the foot. Check your toes. If they become purplish or
    blue, cool to the touch, or numb or tingly, the wrap is too tight and should be
    loosened. Also, loosen the wrap at night before bedtime.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP – Emergency Medicine

Current as ofMarch 21, 2017