How Soon After A Sprained Ankle Can I Play Sports?

November 14th, 2016

Ballerina's Hands Tying Pointed Shoe CopyEvery Frisco athlete with a sprained ankle has one question in mind, “How much longer until I can play again?” Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer.  In fact, the answer commonly is, “It depends.”

About Sprained Ankles

A sprained ankle is when the ligaments surrounding the ankle bones are stretched or torn, often from playing sports, landing awkwardly on one’s foot or from walking or running on uneven surfaces. Nearly all of us have experienced at least a mild ankle sprain in our life, so our point of reference may be that sprains are painful, but they go away after a few days. Unfortunately, this is not true of all ankle sprains.

Moderate to severe sprains are much more serious. If you have a moderate to severe ankle sprain, your podiatrist may notice pain and tenderness. Often swelling, bruising, coldness or numbness in the foot too.  Your may be unable to walk or bear weight on your ankle, and have stiffness also.

Treatment for Sprained Ankles

If you visit podiatrist Dr. Verville in her Frisco office with an ankle sprain, she will probably prescribe RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

  • Rest: Depending on the severity of your sprain, you will need to rest it partially or completely for several days. Frisco podiatrist Dr. Verville may even prescribe you crutches so you can still get around without bearing any weight on the affected ankle.
  • Ice: Icing your sprained ankle can decrease swelling, bruising, pain and muscle spasms. You should ice your ankle for 20 minutes at a time, every 2 to 4 hours, for the first 1 to 3 days of your injury, or longer depending on your Frisco podiatrist’s recommendation.
  • Compression: Wrapping your ankle with a bandage, tape or brace is an excellent way to reduce swelling and bruising. How long you need to wrap your ankle will depend on the severity of your sprain. You may only need to wrap your ankle for a day or two, or your podiatrist may recommend wrapping your ankle for a week or longer.
  • Elevation: Lying down and using pillows to raise your ankle at or above the level of your heart will help reduce swelling or bruising. Your podiatrist may recommend elevation for 3 or more days.

Returning to Normal Activity

As you can see from the treatment options listed above, the duration of treatment needed varies greatly on the severity of the sprain. As such, your ability to resume normal activities, including playing sports or running, is going to depend on the severity of your individual ankle sprain and how effective the RICE treatment is. With a mild sprain, you may be able to resume your normal activities within a few days. However, if your sprained ankle is severe, it may be weeks before you can safely play sports again.

And it’s also important to remember, that once your podiatrist has cleared you for regular activity, it will not be business as usual. You will likely have a series of foot and ankle exercises to perform, to build up strength. Additionally, you will most likely need to tape your ankle or wear a special brace for several weeks to prevent reinjuring your ankle.

I Have a Sprained Ankle. What Do I Do Next?

If you have a sprained ankle, the best thing for you to do is visit Dr. Verville in her Frisco office for a consultation. Schedule a visit today by calling (214) 385-8822.