An ankle sprain is an injury to one or more of the ligaments that support the ankle, usually on the outside of the ankle.  Ligaments are bands of tissue similar to a rubber band that connect bones to each other and stabilize joints.

An ankle sprain often results from a fall or sudden twisting injury that forces the ankle joint out its normal position. A history of sprains or other foot and ankle injuries can weaken the ankle and predispose it to additional sprains.

Symptoms:

  • Pain or soreness
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Limping or difficulty walking
  • Joint stiffness

Diagnosis and Treatment:

Imaging Studies: After talking with you and examining your foot and ankle, your podiatrist may order x-rays or other imaging studies to rule out other injuries.

Physical Therapy: Your doctor and physical therapist will work with you to strengthen your ankle and improve balance.  You may also receive sport-specific training customized to your activity goals.

Bracing: Some people benefit from an ankle brace to help support the ankle while it heals.

Medications: NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can help with pain and swelling.

Why Should I Seek Prompt Medical Attention?

If left untreated, you could develop chronic ankle instability, a condition with ongoing pain and continued ankle sprains and weakness/wobbliness.

You could have a more serious injury along with the sprain such as a fracture of the foot or ankle.  This could lead to bad complication if untreated.

For an ankle sprain to properly heal, early rehabilitation is needed.

Do I Need Surgery?

In severe cases, surgery may be needed to repair the damaged ligament(s). If you develop chronic ankle instability, surgery may be an option to tighten or repair the ligament(s). Completing physical therapy / rehabilitation is critical for a successful outcome and healing.

Anatomy:

There are three ligaments on the outside of the ankle.  The severity of a sprain depends on how many of the ligaments are injured.  They can be stretched, partially torn, or completely ruptured.