Ankle Sprain: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Ankle Sprain: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

June 29, 2021

What is an ankle sprain?

An ankle sprain occurs when the tough bands of tissue (ligaments) that surround and connect the bones of the leg to the bones of the foot are injured. The injury usually occurs when you twist or awkwardly turn your ankle. The ligaments that hold your ankle bones and joints together can be stretched or torn as a result of this.

All ligaments have a range of motion and boundaries that enable them to stabilize the joints. A sprain occurs when the ligaments that surround the ankle are pushed past these limits. The ligaments on the outside of the ankle are most commonly injured in sprained ankles.

If you sprain your ankle, you should see a doctor right away. Your doctor can assess the severity of the injury and suggest the best course of action. A sprained ankle can take several weeks or months to heal completely.

What causes an ankle sprain?

An ankle sprain occurs when the foot twists or rolls unexpectedly, causing the ankle joint to move out of its normal position. As a result of sudden or unexpected movement during physical activity, the ankle may twist inward. One or more ligaments around the ankle stretch or tear as a result of this.

As a result of the tears, some swelling or bruising may occur. When you put weight on the affected area, you may experience pain or discomfort. The sprain may also cause damage to the tendons, cartilage, and blood vessels.

Ankle sprains can affect people of all ages. This type of injury can be caused by sports, walking on uneven surfaces, or even wearing inappropriate footwear.

What are the signs and symptoms of an ankle sprain?

If you notice the following symptoms in your ankle, you may have a sprained ankle:

  • swelling
  • tenderness
  • bruising
  • pain
  • inability to put weight on the affected ankle
  • skin discoloration
  • stiffness

Many different types of injuries can occur to the ankle. It’s critical to see a doctor if you’re having problems with your ankle. Your doctor can tell you whether you have a sprain or something more serious.

How is an ankle sprain diagnosed?

A physical exam will be performed by your doctor to determine which ligaments have been torn. Your doctor may move your ankle joint in various ways during the exam to check your range of motion.

To rule out a bone fracture, imaging tests such as X-rays may be ordered. If your doctor suspects a fracture, a serious ligament injury, or damage to the surface of the ankle joint, an MRI may be ordered. The MRI test creates detailed images of the body by using a strong magnetic field and radio waves. As a result, your doctor will be able to make an accurate diagnosis.

How is an ankle sprain treated?

Treatment for a sprained ankle speeds up recovery and reduces pain. When recovering from an ankle sprain, it’s critical not to put any weight on the injured area.

Home treatments

Mild sprains might be treatable at home. The following are some of the treatments that are recommended for use at home:

  • Wrap your ankle in elastic bandages (such as an ACE bandage), but not too tightly.
  • Supporting your ankle with a brace
  • Using crutches, if needed
  • To decrease swelling, elevate your foot with pillows as needed.
  • Ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) are common pain relievers.
  • Resting a lot and not putting any weight on your ankle

Applying ice to the injured area as soon as possible can also help to reduce swelling. Ice should be applied three to four times per day on the first day, every 20 to 30 minutes. For the next two days, apply ice every three to four hours.

Your doctor may advise you to rest your injured ankle until the pain goes away. Mild sprains may take a week to ten days to heal, while more severe sprains may take several weeks.


Ankle sprains are rarely treated surgically. When ligament damage is severe and there is evidence of instability, or when nonsurgical treatment fails to improve the injury, surgery may be required. The following are some surgical options:

  • Arthroscopy: During an arthroscopy, a surgeon examines the inside of the joint for any loose bone or cartilage fragments.
  • Reconstruction: A surgeon will use stitches to repair the torn ligament during reconstruction surgery. They may also repair the damaged ligaments with other ligaments or tendons around the foot or ankle.

The type of surgery required will be determined by the severity of your ankle sprain as well as your level of activity. Rehabilitation is an important part of the recovery process after surgery. To regain motion and strengthen the muscle around the ankle, you’ll need to see your doctor regularly and complete physical therapy exercises. Rehabilitation can take weeks or months, depending on the severity of your ankle sprain and the type of surgery you have.

What is the long-term diagnosis for someone who has sprained their ankle?

An ankle sprain is usually not serious, and with proper treatment, it will heal completely. The severity of the sprain will determine how long it takes to recover completely. It usually takes a few weeks for an ankle sprain to heal completely. It could take months for a more serious sprain to heal.

Even if the swelling and pain go away, your injured ankle may not be as stable as your unaffected ankle. Your doctor may advise you to do some exercises to strengthen the muscles around your ankle. However, you should wait until your doctor has permitted you to start exercising.

How can I prevent an ankle sprain?

You can reduce your chances of sprains in the future by doing the following:

  • You can reduce your chances of sprains in the future by doing the following:
  • If necessary, use a brace.
  • Exercising to improve strength
  • High heels should be avoided
  • Before you exercise, you should stretch or warm-up.
  • Putting on sturdy, high-quality shoes
  • Keeping an eye on the ground you’re walking on
  • When you’re tired, slow down or stop what you’re doing.

If you think you’ve sprained your ankle again, see your doctor right away. An ankle sprain, if left untreated, can result in long-term pain and instability in the ankle. Visit Cadence Physical Therapy to get proper treatment for your ankle pain.

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