Ankle sprains are among the most common injuries in all of orthopaedics and are the most common injury in competitive sports.
Ankle sprains usually involve an inversion injury, or inward-rolling injury to the ankle. As the ankle rolls over, the structures on the outside (lateral) of the ankle can be stretched or even torn. Although less common, eversion injuries (outward-rolling) can occur with stretching and tearing of the inner ankle structures.
A sprain is usually sudden and painful. Depending on the severity of the sprain, it may be difficult to walk on the injured leg.
Initial treatment of an ankle sprain usually consists of “RICE” (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). These simple treatments help to limit the amount of swelling and pain. We will often obtain x-rays of the ankle to make sure that there are not any fractures (broken bones). Many patients are placed into some form of immobilizer, such as a boot, until much of the pain and swelling has decreased. Then physical therapy can help to regain strength and balance.
Most patients with an ankle sprain recover with a period of immobilization and sometimes physical therapy. A small group of patients may continue to have symptoms of pain, instability (the ankle continues to give-out), or both. Further studies such as an MRI may then be recommended. Under certain circumstances when symptoms continue, surgery may be recommended to treat injured structures within the ankle joint and possibly perform ligament stabilization procedures.
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