Ankle Sprain: Common Ankle Sprain

The 26 Review

  • What is an Ankle Sprain? An injury where ankle ligaments are stretched out or torn
  • Causes Twisting, rolling, tripping, falling or any other unnatural ankle movement
  • Symptoms Pain, problem bearing weight, swelling, bruising, restricted range of motion, instability
  • Diagnosis Physical examination, X-ray, MRI
  • Treatment Rest, ice, ankle brace, compression, laser therapy, anti-inflammatories, orthotics, physical therapy, steroids, surgery
26 Foot and Ankle. Ankle Pain

Let’s take a closer look…

Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries, and they can have lasting effects on your life if you don’t treat them properly. While minor ankle sprains will heal in a few weeks, severe sprains may require surgery and are much more likely to re-injure in the future if not properly dealt with.

Most Doctors will grade your ankle sprain on a level scale according to its severity. Mild (grade I) indicates that your ligaments are stretched but not torn and that your ankle feels stable, but you may have some pain and stiffness.

Moderate (grade II) indicates that one or more ligaments are partially torn, that the joint isn’t totally stable, and you can’t move it as much as usual. In this stage, you are experiencing swelling and moderate pain.

Severe (grade III) indicates that one or more ligaments are totally torn, and your ankle is unstable. At this level, you have significant pain and can’t move your ankle as you should.


An ankle sprain occurs when the ankle is forced out of its normal position. During this trauma, the ligaments that support the ankle are stretched or torn. This can happen from a fall, a direct blow to the ankle, or an awkward twist or turn. The most common cause of an ankle sprain is rolling the ankle inward. This stretches or tears the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.

The most common causes of ankle sprains are walking on uneven surfaces, falling, tripping, and participating in sports that require jumping actions such as basketball, football, and soccer. Stepping off a curb or unexpectedly in a divot or hole in the ground can also cause common ankle sprains.


The most common symptom of an ankle sprain is pain and swelling. You might also feel a pop or tear when the injury occurs. Other symptoms include bruising and difficulty putting weight on your foot. In severe cases, you may even hear a crunching sound when the ligament is torn. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor right away.


To diagnose an ankle sprain, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. He or she will also examine your ankle for tenderness, swelling, and bruising. X-rays may be ordered to rule out a fracture. An MRI may be ordered to evaluate the severity of the sprain and/or to help with surgical planning.


A doctor will usually recommend the RICE method–rest, ice, compression, and elevation–for treating an ankle sprain. It is important to reduce swelling as soon as possible. Apply ice for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. You can also wrap the ankle with an elastic bandage. Put the affected foot up whenever possible. Take ibuprofen or another anti-inflammatory medication for pain relief.

Usually, a person can put weight on the ankle after a few days and fully recover within two to four weeks. If this is not the case, your podiatrist will recommend appropriate and more direct treatment for your case, including options such as an ankle brace, walking boot, kinesiology therapy taping, laser therapy, and even surgery.

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