An ankle sprain is an injury to the tough bands of tissue (ligaments) that surround and connect the bones around the ankle joint. It typically happens when you accidentally twist or turn your ankle in an awkward way. This can stretch or tear the ligaments but can also affect tendons and blood vessels in the surrounding areas.
Sprained Ankle Causes
Anything that stretches your ankle more than it’s used to can hurt a ligament. This usually happens when your foot is turned inward or twisted, such as when you:
- Plant your foot the wrong way when running, stepping up or down, or doing everyday things like getting out of bed
- Step on an uneven surface, like in a hole
- Step on someone else while playing sports. (For example, your foot might roll when you’re playing basketball, go up for a rebound, and come down on top of another player’s foot.)
Sprained Ankle Symptoms
The inflammation that comes along with a sprained ankle can cause symptoms including:
- Inability to put weight on the affected ankle
- Skin discoloration
The ankle can sustain many different types of injuries. It’s important to see your doctor when you’re experiencing problems with your ankle. Your doctor can determine whether the injury is a sprain or something more severe.
When to call your doctor
You probably won’t need to see your doctor about a sprain. But give them a call if:
- Your pain is severe or doesn’t get better with over-the-counter medications, elevation, and ice
- You can’t walk, or you have severe pain when you do
- Your ankle doesn’t feel better within 5 to 7 days
You might have a bone fracture instead of a sprain if:
- You have severe pain or pain that doesn’t get better with treatment
- Your foot or ankle is twisted or extremely swollen
- You can’t walk without pain
- You have severe pain when you press your medial malleolus or lateral malleolus, the bony bumps on each side of your ankle
Sprained Ankle Complications
Other problems can develop over time if you don’t treat a sprained ankle, try to do too much before it’s completely healed, or sprain it more than once. These complications include:
- An unstable joint
- Injuring the other ankle because of changes in how you walk
Ankle Sprain Treatment
Doctors recommend RICE:
- Rest keeps you from hurting the ankle again or putting stress on inflamed tissue. A brace or splint can take pressure off the joint.
- Ice is probably the best treatment. Put it on your ankle to lower blood flow and help with swelling, redness, and warmth. It can prevent inflammation if you do it quickly after an injury.
- Compression can keep down swelling. Use an elastic bandage or wrap until the swelling goes down. Always start wrapping at the point farthest from your heart. Don’t wrap so tightly that you cut off the blood flow.
- Elevation (keeping the injured area up as high as possible) will help your body absorb extra fluid. It’s best to prop your ankle up so that it’s higher than your heart, as with a reclining chair.
Anti-inflammatory pain medications reduce pain and fight swelling. Over-the-counter drugs work for most people. Check with your doctor first if you have other health conditions or take any other medicines.
How to do rehabilitation exercises for an ankle sprain
When the initial symptoms of pain and swelling start to subside, you will need to start some progressive exercise to ensure an optimal outcome. Below is an outline that may allow most people to return to their normal activities without any problems. Some who participate in sport involving changes of direction, jumping and landing may require more time or enhanced rehabilitation to achieve these goals.
- Weight bearing and walking as early as possible
- Maintain range of motion with some easy mobility exercises
- Stretching exercises as Achilles tendon, Towel stretch and Calf stretch.
- Basic strength exercise
- Balance and control exercises
- Gradually increase the distance you are walking and expose yourself to different types of terrain (incline/decline/uneven ground
- Practice jumping and landing
- Begin running and include changes of direction depending upon your rehabilitation goals.
In most cases you are able to walk relatively comfortably after 1-2 weeks, can use it fully after 6-8 weeks and return to sport after 12 weeks. This is however dependent upon how severe the sprain is.
Start each exercise slowly and use your pain level to guide you in doing these exercises. Ease off the exercise if you have more than mild pain. Following are some examples of typical rehabilitation (rehab) exercises.
Keep in mind that the timing and type of rehab exercises recommended for you may vary according to your doctor’s or physical therapist’s preferences.
How can I prevent an ankle sprain?
You can lower your risk for future sprains by:
- wrapping the affected ankle in an elastic bandage
- wearing a brace, if necessary
- performing strengthening exercises
- avoiding high heels
- warming up before exercising
- wearing sturdy, quality footwear
- paying attention to surfaces you’re walking on
- slowing or stopping activities when you feel fatigued
Call us right away if you think you’ve sprained your ankle again. When left untreated, an ankle sprain can lead to long-term pain and instability in the ankle.
As your symptoms improve, gradually build up your walking times and ease back into normal activity.
1. Gentle exercise and getting back to normal will help the ligament heal quicker and stronger, continuing to rest it after the first few days will slow down the healing process.
2. It is not unusual for it to be a bit sore when you restart a new activity for the first time, so get back to your usual activities gently. It might help to ice it again after you do something new, for example, going to the gym for the
3. It usually takes six to eight weeks to get back to normal activity.
4. Physiotherapy can be very helpful in helping you maximize your recovery and reduce your risk of re-injury
Should you require additional information or would like to make an appointment with our Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Ishrat Khan OR Physical Therapists, Anil Daniel, OR Hadel Radwan please call us or e-mail us at email@example.com
Disclaimer: All contents on this site are for general information and in no circumstances information be substituted for professional advice from the relevant healthcare professional, Writer does not take responsibility of any damage done by the misuse or use of the information.
- Harvard Medical School