Ankle Sprains

What are ankle sprains?

Ankle sprains occur when the foot twists unexpectedly, tearing the ligaments on the outside of the ankle. It’s a very common injury and can happen when walking on an uneven surface, participating in sports, running, or falling down. When the ankle is twisted or rolled to the side an ankle sprain can occur.

How do I know if I have sprained my ankle?

A sprained ankle is painful. It may feel like a painful spring inside your ankle when you try to step on it. You may also experience symptoms that include:

  • Swelling of the ankle
  • Bruising on the sides of the ankle
  • Ankle is tender to the touch
  • Difficulty standing on the ankle–it feels unstable and won’t hold you up when you stand

What are the treatments for a sprained ankle?

There are three “grades”, or levels of severity for sprained ankles:

Grade 1: Mild
  • There is a slight stretching of the ligaments, mild tenderness and swelling of the ankle.
Grade 2: Moderate
  • There is partial tearing of the ligament, moderate tenderness and swelling and the ankle joint is loose.
Grade 3: Severe
  • There is a complete tear of the ligament, and when significant instability in the ankle joint

What are the treatments?

The majority of sprained ankles can be treated with rest, ice and varying levels of immobility. Severe sprains may require some level of physical therapy to restore full mobility after the recovery period has ended. Mild sprains can take two weeks to heal and more severe sprains may take 6 to 12 weeks.

The standard treatment for sprains is as follows:

Rest­ –do not walk on the ankle 

Ice – apply ice to the swelling for 20 minute, three to four times daily

Compression – ace bandages or air casts support the ankle

Elevation – raising the ankle above the heart will reduce swelling and discomfort

The doctor will give you anti-inflammatory medications to control pain and swelling.

In cases where the ankle is very unstable, crutches will help provide stability while walking.