An ankle sprain is an injury to one or more ligaments in your ankle. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect one bone to another to form the joints. Your ankle has many bones, muscles, and ligaments that attach your foot to your leg. When a ligament is injured, it can be stretched, partially torn, or completely torn.
A sprain is caused by a sudden activity that twists your ankle, like tripping on the stairs or falling during a sporting event.
Symptoms may include:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, activities, and medical history and examine you. You may have X-rays or other scans.
You will need to change or stop doing the activities that cause pain until the ligament has healed.
Your healthcare provider may recommend stretching and strengthening exercises to help you heal more quickly
Use an elastic bandage or an ankle brace as directed by your provider. You may need to use crutches until you can walk without pain.
If your ankle ligaments are completely torn, you may need surgery. After surgery your ankle will be in a cast for 4 to 8 weeks.
The pain often gets better within a few weeks with self-care, but some injuries may take several months or longer to heal. It’s important to follow all of your healthcare provider’s instructions.
To reduce swelling and pain for the first few days after the injury:
Follow your healthcare provider's instructions, including any exercises recommended by your provider. Ask your provider:
Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.
Warm-up exercises and stretching before activities can help prevent injuries. Exercises to improve balance can help prevent ankle sprains. A physical therapist or athletic trainer can teach you these exercises.
Follow safety rules and use any protective equipment recommended for your work or sport. For example, wear the right type of shoes for your activities, and tape your ankle or wear a brace for strenuous sports, especially if you have hurt your ankle before. Avoid running or playing on uneven surfaces.