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  • Sprained Ankle: Using a Compression Wrap
 

Sprained Ankle: Using a Compression Wrap

Introduction

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, you will heal faster and get back on your feet sooner.
  • Applying a compression wrap is easy and can be done at home.
  • Elastic bandages are inexpensive and available at most drugstores.
  • 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.
 

An ankle sprain occurs when ligaments that connect the bones in the foot, ankle, and lower leg are stretched or torn.

An ankle sprain often happens when you make a rapid shifting movement with your foot planted, for example, when playing soccer or getting tackled in football. Most commonly, the ankle rolls outward and the foot turns inward in what is called an inversion injury. It results in stretching and tearing of the ligaments that connect the bones in the foot, ankle, and lower leg on the outside of the ankle.

Less commonly, the ankle rolls inward and the foot turns outward in an eversion injury, damaging the ligaments at the inside of the ankle.

Test Your Knowledge

When you sprain your ankle, you stretch and tear ligaments.

  • True
    This answer is correct.

    An ankle sprain occurs when ligaments that connect the bones in the foot, ankle, and lower leg are stretched and torn.

  • False
    This answer is incorrect.

    An ankle sprain occurs when ligaments that connect the bones in the foot, ankle, and lower leg are stretched and torn.

  •  

Continue to Why?

 

A compression wrap helps decrease swelling. Wear a compression wrap until the swelling is gone. The compression wrap will not protect the ankle.

Test Your Knowledge

Compression wraps help decrease swelling.

  • True
    This answer is correct.

    A compression wrap helps decrease swelling.

  • False
    This answer is incorrect.

    A compression wrap helps decrease swelling.

  •  

Continue to How?

 

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) around the outside anklebone for cushioning.
  • 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 at the outside 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.

Test Your Knowledge

When applied properly, the elastic bandage should be snug and offer your ankle firm support.

  • True
    This answer is correct.

    When applied properly, the elastic bandage should be snug, but it should not be so tight that it cuts off your circulation. Check your toes to make sure they are pink and warm. If they are purplish or blue, cool to the touch, or numb or tingly, undo the wrap and start over.

  • False
    This answer is incorrect.

    When applied properly, the elastic bandage should be snug, but it should not be so tight that it cuts off your circulation. Check your toes to make sure they are pink and warm. If they are purplish or blue, cool to the touch, or numb or tingly, undo the wrap and start over.

  •  

Continue to Where?

 

To learn more about applying a compression wrap, talk to:

If you would like to learn more about the care of ankle sprains, the following resources are available:

Organizations

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)
6300 North River Road
Rosemont, IL  60018-4262
Phone: (847) 823-7186
Fax: (847) 823-8125
Email: orthoinfo@aaos.org
Web Address: www.orthoinfo.aaos.org
 

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) provides information and education to raise the public's awareness of musculoskeletal conditions, with an emphasis on preventive measures. The AAOS website contains information on orthopedic conditions and treatments, injury prevention, and wellness and exercise.


American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society
6300 North River Road
Suite 510
Rosemont, IL  60018
Phone: 1-800-235-4855
(847) 698-4654
Web Address: www.aofas.org
 

The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) provides information on a variety of topics, including foot care for adults, children, and people who have diabetes; proper shoe fit; and how to select children's shoes and sports shoes. Some information is available in several languages besides English.


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Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised January 23, 2012

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