What’s the proper treatment for a rolled ankle?

If you have played sports long enough you have probably suffered from a rolled (or sprained) ankle at least once.

Although there are technically three types of ankle sprains (inversion, eversion and high ankle sprain), the most common is the inversion (where your foot turns inward and you roll over the outside of your foot). It happened to CoCo Vandeweghe last year at Stanford, nearly jeopardizing her Olympic chances.

The first, and most obvious step, is to stop playing immediately if you've suffered a sprain.

Seeing a sports physician is always the safest thing to do to determine the severity of your injury. In the absence of a fracture, P.R.I.C.E. represents the simple five-step protocol you must follow immediately after an injury.

P

Protection is meant to prevent any further injury. Avoid bearing any weight for the first few days through the use of crutches or just staying off your feet.

R

Rest is important to allow for healing. Abide by “relative rest,” meaning rest from any motion that will stress the ligaments that you have injured.

I

Ice refers includes the use of any cold treatments (ice packs, ice baths, etc.). The use of ice minimizes swelling as well as decreases pain. When applying ice directly to your ankle, protect the skin by having a thin layer of cloth between the ice and your skin. A good rule of thumb is 15–20 minutes of ice every two hours.

C

Compression is the use of an elastic bandage to control swelling and provide some comfort and support. It is very important that you wrap the injury correctly, as shown by a doctor or physical therapist. Re-wrap after each icing.

E

Elevate your foot above your heart (an easy reminder is your toes above your nose). During the first few days following the injury, elevate as much as you can during your waking hours.

P.R.I.C.E. will prevent you from doing any further harm and will allow your body to begin healing. Follow the orders of your doctor or physical therapist and begin the rehab process to get back on the court as soon as possible.


Gary Kitchell is a sports specific physical therapist, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and a USPTA teaching professional. He has worked with 15 former number No. 1 players including John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl. Learn more at kitchtennisrx.com.