Ankle Sprain

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What is an ankle sprain?

An ankle sprain is an injury that causes a stretch or tear of one or more ligaments in the ankle joint. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect bones at the joint. Sprains may be graded as I, II, or III depending on their severity:

Grade I Sprain: Pain with minimal damage to the ligaments
Grade II Sprain: More ligament damage and mild looseness of the joint
Grade III Sprain: Complete tearing of the ligament and the joint is very loose or unstable

Sometimes sprains are just classified as mild or sever, depending on the amount of ligament damage. Most sprains occur in the outside part of the ankle, but they can occur on the inside.

How does an ankle sprain occur?

An ankle sprain is caused by twisting your ankle. Your foot usually turns in or under but may also turn to the outside.

What are the symptoms of an ankle sprain?

Symptoms of a sprained ankle include:

  • Mild aching to sudden pain
  • Swelling of the ankle and into the foot
  • Discoloration due to bruising
  • Inability to properly move your ankle
  • Pain in the ankle when non weight bearing
How is an ankle sprain diagnosed?

Your doctor will review how the injury occurred and consider your symptoms. An x-ray will be taken and a physical exam will be performed.

How is an ankle sprain treated?
  • Apply ice to the ankle for 20-30 minutes, 3-4 times per day
  • Wear an elastic bandage around the ankle to treat and prevent swelling
  • Elevate the ankle on a pillow, keeping it above the level of your heart
  • Use crutches when walking, as directed by your doctor
  • Take NSAID medication or other pain medication prescribed by your doctor
  • Perform home exercises to improve ankle strength and range of motion
  • Rarely, severe ankle sprains with complete tearing of the ligaments may require surgery.

Information obtained from The Sports Medicine Patient Advisor by Pierre Rouzier, MD