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Non-Operative Methods for Ankle Injuries

Apr 6, 2015

When you’re suffering from an ankle injury, you know how difficult it can be to perform the simplest task. It’s crucial to seek help at the first signs of injury so you can get back to living your life. However, it’s understandable and very common to be nervous about complicated treatment methods. Fortunately, most ankle injuries can be treated with non-surgical techniques, so you don’t have to worry about invasive procedures.

Learn more about the options available for treating your ankle injury here.


Using the R.I.C.E. method is very effective in reducing swelling and inflammation and relieving your ankle pain. R.I.C.E. stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation, and this process can be repeated several times a day to achieve optimal results.

  • Rest:  Avoid using your ankle for a few days because putting stress on it can aggravate the injury, cause you more pain, and may even make the injury worse.
  • Ice:  Apply ice to your ankle, focusing on where it hurts the most. Be sure to keep a thin towel or cloth between the ice and your skin. Leave the ice on for 20 minutes, remove it for 20 minutes, and then repeat this cycle.
  • Compression:  It’s important to wrap your ankle in an ACE bandage to eliminate swelling and reduce pain. Make sure it’s tight enough to be effective, but not cutting off your circulation. Don’t sleep with the ACE bandage on, but wear it when you’re using your ankle.
  • Elevation:  Prop your ankle up so it’s in an elevated position higher than your heart.


Your doctor may suggest applying a short leg cast or removable brace to your ankle for stabilization. This will help hold the bones and ligaments in place and give them the opportunity to heal. A cast or brace will also protect your ankle overall.

The length of time you’ll be required to wear a cast or removable brace depends on the severity of your ankle injury. It can be as long as 9-12 weeks.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a series of repetitive exercises and stretches that help promote flexibility, strengthen muscles and ligaments, and improve range of motion. This treatment is most effective after you’ve given your ankle a few days to a few weeks to recover from the initial injury.

During your physical therapy workouts, you’ll avoid twisting or turning your ankle to reduce the risk of further injury. Instead, you’ll be focused more on maintenance exercises and putting weight on it. As you gain strength, the exercises will become more challenging until your ankle is completely healed.

If you’re experiencing pain in your ankle, talk to a doctor about your symptoms and consider all of the non-surgical treatment options. In some cases, ankle injuries are too serious for non-surgical treatment methods. If you find that these non-invasive treatments aren’t providing enough relief, it may be time to consider surgery.

For more information about foot and ankle pain, download our e-book, Pains and Sprains: A Complete Guide to Foot Injuries and Disorders.