Will I need to wear a brace?This will depend on how serious your sprain is, if you have other ankle injuries and how your doctor thinks your sprain should be treated. You may need to wear a brace or padded plaster, plastic or fiber glass splint for 10 days to 6 weeks. A brace or splint keeps the bones and injured ligaments from moving, which provides protection, reduces pain and speeds healing.How long before I can use my ankle?This depends on how serious your sprain is. If your sprain is mild, your doctor may suggest that you start trying to use your ankle again fairly soon--from 1 to 3 days after your injury.Special exercises are sometimes needed to regain strength and to help reduce the chance of ongoing problems. Your ankle may need to be supported by taping or bracing to help protect it from re-injury.What about medicine for pain?If you need medicine to ease the pain, try acetaminophen (brand name: Tylenol) or ibuprofen (brand names: Advil, Motrin, Nuprin).What is the best way to use ice?Putting ice on your ankle can be very helpful, but you also need to be careful. The cold can damage nerves if the ice is left in place too long.Ice can be left on your ankle for up to 20 minutes at a time. When your skin feels numb, it's time to remove the ice. Use ice treatments every 2 to 4 hours for the first 3 days after your injury. Ice treatments can consist of ice packs, ice slush baths or ice massages.To use ice packs, partly fill a plastic bag with crushed ice. Wrap a thin, wet cloth around your injury. Place the ice pack over this and then wrap an elastic bandage around the ice pack to hold it in place.For ice slush baths, fill a large bucket with water and ice. Place your ankle in the bucket until the skin gets numb.Ice massages can work well for small areas. Freeze water in 4- to 8-ounce styrofoam (coffee) cups. Tear the top part of the cup away from the ice. Hold the covered end and slowly rub the ice over the sprained area with a circular motion. Don't hold the ice on one spot for more than 30 seconds.How do I wrap a sprained ankle?Start by cutting out a horseshoe-shaped pad from 1 x 4- to 3 x 8-inch-thick felt. Put this pad around the outside of your ankle joint on both sides of your foot, with the open end facing up.Then wrap an elastic bandage, such as an Ace bandage, in a basket-weave "figure-eight" pattern. Leave your heel exposed. Reinforce your wrap with 21 x 2-inch adhesive tape over the elastic bandage.Ask your doctor to show you how to do this. The ankle shouldn't be wrapped so tightly that the blood flow is cut off.How soon can I exercise or play sports?If you're an athlete, you'll probably be able to return to your sport in several weeks, depending on how serious your injury is and what sport you're involved in. When participating in sports, you may need to keep your ankle braced or wrapped for support and protection.Bicycling, swimming or even running are usually okay to return to right away if they don't cause pain during or after exercise. But you'll still need to avoid pivoting and twisting movements for 2 to 3 weeks.How can I prevent re-injury?When your doctor feels you're ready to exercise again, you can help prevent further sprains and setbacks by wearing a semi-rigid ankle brace when you exercise for another 1 to 2 months.Special wraps that use hook and loop fasteners, or air-filled or laced braces may also help prevent re-injury. Wearing high-top tennis shoes may also help prevent ankle sprains if your shoes are laced snugly and if you also tape your ankle with a wide, nonelastic adhesive tape. Elastic tape or braces are usually not helpful because the elastic gives too much around the joint.