Sprained Ankle

What is a Sprained Ankle?

A sprained ankle is a very common injury from rolling, twisting, or turning your ankle in an awkward way. This can happen to anyone. It can be caused by playing sports, exercising, or even stepping on a surface that’s not even or stepping down at an angle.

Rolling, twisting, or turning your ankle the wrong way stretches or tears the ligaments, tough bands of tissue that connect bones and prevent the ankle from moving too much. Most sprained ankles injure the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.

What Are the Most Common Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle?

  • Pain, especially when putting weight on your foot.
  • Swelling.
  • Not being able to move the ankle as much as normal.
  • Bruising (sometimes).
  • Hearing or feeling a “pop” (sometimes).

What Are the Treatments for a Sprained Ankle?

Sprained ankles sometimes get better with rest. Other treatments include:

  • Pain medicines: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen:
    • NSAIDs like ibuprofen (e.g., Advil and Motrin) help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
    • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) relieves pain.
  • A removable plastic splint or cast boot, or crutches, to protect the ankle while it heals.
  • Physical therapy after the swelling goes down to restore your ankle’s strength, movement, flexibility, and balance.
  • Surgery to stabilize the ankle if it’s still unstable or doesn’t get better after months of physical therapy and rest. Surgery is rarely needed. When it is, the surgeon can often use arthroscopic surgery. Done through a few small incisions, this minimally-invasive surgery helps you heal faster and with less pain.