An ankle sprain is characterized the stretching or tearing of a ligament. Your ligaments are strong bands of tissue that are needed to stabilize joints. You can cause damage to a ligament by twisting, turning, or rolling your ankle.
Ankle sprains are more likely to occur if you are very active or if you have injured your ankle before. You can sprain your ankle by falling, landing the wrong way after jumping, or running on an uneven surface. In general, any unnatural movement that puts stress on your foot can result in an ankle sprain.
Some patients here a popping sound when they sprain their ankle. Others only experience pain, especially when putting weight on the injured ankle. Reduced range of motion, bruising, and swelling are also common symptoms of an ankle sprain.
The treatment that is needed for an ankle sprain varies according to how severe the problem is, but medical evaluation is always recommended so that your doctor can determine the extent of the injury and suggest the best next steps. For example, severe symptoms could point to a break that requires more involved treatment. Your doctor will examine the ankle and check for range of motion. Sometimes, imaging tests (like an x-ray) are needed to get a better look at the damage.
With no treatment at all for an ankle sprain, you could experience instability and chronic pain.
Some patients only need over-the-counter medications and rest to manage pain. Crutches or splints can help with walking until the pain subsides. Ice therapy, compression, elevation can be used to reduce swelling. For many patients, physical therapy is useful for restoring strength and range of motion.
In order to protect the ankle going forward, wearing an ankle brace or wrap during physical activity and exercise may be helpful.