An ankle sprain is an injury to one or more ligaments in the ankle, usually on the outside of the ankle. Ligaments connect bone to bone and bind the joints together to provide stability. The severity of an ankle sprain depends on whether the ligament is stretched, partially torn, or completely torn, as well as on the number of ligaments involved.
Ankle sprains are the most common foot/ankle injury. Sprained ankles often result from a fall, a sudden twist, or a inversion injury that forces the ankle joint out of its normal position. Ankle sprains commonly occur while participating in sports, wearing inappropriate shoes, or walking or running on an uneven surface. Previous ankle or foot injuries can also weaken the ankle and lead to sprains.
The symptoms of ankle sprains may include: Pain or soreness, Swelling, Bruising, Difficulty walking, Stiffness in the joint.
These symptoms may vary in intensity. Sometimes pain and swelling are absent in people with previous ankle sprains. They may simply feel the ankle is unstably when they walk. Even if there is no pain or swelling with a sprained ankle, treatment is crucial.
X-rays or other advanced imaging studies may be ordered to help determine the severity of the injury.
An Ankle sprain should be promptly evaluated and treated.
- An untreated ankle sprain may lead to chronic ankle instability, which includes persistent “giving way” of the ankle.
- A more severe ankle injury may have occurred along with the sprain. This might include a serious fracture that, if left untreated, could lead to disruption in the contact forces of the ankle joint.
- An ankle sprain can lead to other other injuries involving the tendons on the outside of the ankle.
- Rest. Limit the amount you are on the injured ankle.
- Ice. Apply an ice pack to the injured area, placing a thin towel between the ice and the skin. Use ice for 20 minutes and then wait at least 40 minutes before icing again.
- Compression. An elastic wrap may be recommended by your surgeon to control swelling.
- Bracing. The ankle should be supported in a low profile ASO brace as rehabilitation develops.
- Elevation. The ankle should be raised slightly above the level of your heart to reduce swelling.
- Early physical therapy. Your surgeon will start you on a rehabilitation program as soon as possible to promote healing and increase your range of motion. This includes doing prescribed exercises.
- Medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may be recommended to reduce pain and inflammation. In some cases, prescription pain medications are needed to provide adequate relief.