Published: Nov. 11, 2010
Updated: Oct. 27, 2011
An ankle sprain is an injury to the ligament of the ankle joint. Sprained ankles are one of the most common orthopaedic injuries.
An ankle sprain is a common sports injury, but can also happen during everyday activities like walking or climbing stairs.
Ankle ligaments are injured when an excessive stretching force is applied to them. This commonly happens when the foot is turned inward or inverted.
This can happen by awkwardly planting your foot while walking, stepping down, or running. This can also occur by stepping on an uneven surface or stepping in a hole.
A sprained ankle is characterized by several symptoms including:
A physical examination by your doctor will properly diagnose the injury and the severity of the ankle sprain. The exam will focus on pain and range of motion, ensuring that there is no serious injury to the ankle, including fracture.
Nerves and arteries to the foot should be checked for injury, and the Achilles tendon should be checked for possible rupture. X-ray imaging will confirm if there is fracture.
Ankle sprains typically heal on their own without complications and most people are able to make a complete recovery. Caring for your injury should focus on reducing pain and aiding healing.
Common ankle sprain treatments include:
For severe ankle sprains, particularly, high ankle sprains, more aggressive treatments may be required. Your doctor will speak with you about these treatment options if that is the case.
Duke Orthopaedics treats common and severe ankle sprains at locations throughout North Carolina, including Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill.
Watch an educational video about ankle sprain treatments.