Ankle sprains are caused by an unnatural twisting or force on the ankle bones of the foot, which may result in excessive stretching or tearing of one or more ligaments on the outside of the ankle. The severity of the sprain can impact the degree of damage as well as the type and duration of treatment. If not properly treated, ankle sprains may develop into long-term problems.
Primary symptoms of ankle sprains are pain following a twist or injury, swelling, and bruising.
Treatment includes resting and elevating the ankle and applying ice to reduce swelling. Compressive bandages also may be used to immobilize and support the injury during healing. Serious ankle sprains, particularly among competitive athletes, may require surgery to repair and tighten the damaged ligaments. While every sprain is treated with elevation and applying cold to the swollen area, the level of additional treatment will be determined by the grade of injury. This is typically broken into three grade levels, (I, II and III.) Because a sprain involves a damage to a ligament, it is crucial to assess the severity of the sprain and to treat it accordingly.
To prevent ankle sprains, try to maintain strength, balance, and flexibility in the foot and ankle through exercising, stretching, and wearing well-fitted shoes.