Chiropractor’s Approach: Treating Twisted vs. Sprained Ankles

August 15, 2023

twisted ankleTwisting your ankle can happen to anyone at any time, whether it’s a misstep on uneven ground, during sports activities, or a simple accident. It’s a common injury, but it can be quite painful, inconvenient, and frustrating.

Often, people may confuse a twisted ankle with a sprained ankle, as they share some similar symptoms.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the best course of action when you twist your ankle and shed light on the differences between a twisted ankle and a sprained ankle. 


The Initial Response

When you twist your ankle, the immediate response is crucial in preventing further damage and promoting faster recovery.

The RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) method is a widely recommended first-aid approach for this type of injury:

Rest: Avoid putting weight on the affected ankle. If necessary, use crutches or a brace to keep weight off the injured foot.

Ice: Apply an ice pack wrapped in a cloth or towel to the injured area for 15-20 minutes every two to three hours for the first 48 hours. Ice helps reduce swelling and numb the pain.

Compression: Use an elastic bandage to wrap the ankle, providing support and minimizing swelling. Be cautious not to wrap it too tightly to avoid impairing blood circulation.

Elevation: Keep your injured foot elevated above the level of your heart whenever possible. This position helps reduce swelling by allowing fluids to drain away from the injured area.


Manual TherapySeek Medical Evaluation

If the pain is severe, you are unable to bear weight on the ankle, or the swelling persists despite initial home care, it’s essential to seek medical attention such as scheduling an appointment with the Doctors of Chiropractic here at Tangelo Seattle or Portland.

Your Tangelo Doctor will perform a thorough evaluation and, if needed, order an X-ray or MRI to determine the extent of the injury and rule out fractures or other complications.



While the R.I.C.E method is the standard method in managing the early stages of a twisted or sprained ankle, a lot of the current evidence is supporting the benefits of early conservative activity.

While we recommend consulting a Doctor first, here is the what the A.R.I.T.A method means:


A: Active

R: Recovery

I: Is

T: The

A: Answer


This means that you want to move the joint as much as possible (to tolerance) as early as possible. This doesn’t necessarily include weight-bearing activity or exercises, but rather, seated exercises such as ankle circles and the like.

The goal here is to promote recovery by putting your lymphatic system to work to help mechanically flush out the swelling and introduce blood to the affected site.


Differentiating a Twisted Ankle from a Sprained Ankle


A twisted ankle and a sprained ankle are often used interchangeably, but they refer to different injuries:

Twisted Ankle: When you twist your ankle, it means you have forcefully turned your foot, causing strain on the ligaments and tendons without necessarily damaging them. The result is usually temporary pain, swelling, and limited mobility. Twisted ankles often heal with proper rest and home care.

Sprained Ankle: A sprained ankle is more severe than a simple twist. It occurs when the ligaments, which are tough bands of tissue connecting bones to each other, get stretched or torn due to excessive force on the joint

Sprained ankles can be mild (Grade 1), moderate (Grade 2), or severe (Grade 3), depending on the extent of ligament damage. Severe sprains might require more extensive medical treatment and a longer recovery period.


Recovery and Rehabilitation

For both twisted ankles and sprained ankles, following a structured recovery plan is essential for regaining strength and preventing future injuries. The duration of recovery can vary depending on the severity of the injury.

Rest: Give your ankle sufficient time to heal. Avoid putting weight on the injured foot until you can walk without pain.

Gradual Weight-Bearing: Once the pain and swelling subside, gradually start bearing weight on the ankle. Use a brace or wrap for support, especially during physical activities.

Functional Rehabilitation or Physical Therapy: Engaging in therapeutic exercises can help improve flexibility, strength, and balance, reducing the risk of re-injury. Remember, the best predictor of a future injury is a past injury.

Preventative Measures: Pay attention to your body and avoid activities that may cause further strain on your ankles. Wearing appropriate footwear and participating in a proper warm-up and strength training program can be beneficial for long term success.



When you twist your ankle, swift and proper action is crucial for a speedy recovery. Remember the RICE method and seek medical evaluation at Tangelo Seattle or Portland if necessary.

Understanding the difference between a twisted ankle and a sprained ankle can also guide you in managing your injury better.

Taking care of your ankle properly will not only alleviate pain but also reduce the risk of long-term complications, ensuring you get back on your feet with confidence and comfort.