Ankle Sprains

Types, Diagnosis, Prevention, and Treatment of Ankle Sprains

Illustration of lateral ankle sprain

What Are Ankle Sprains?

An ankle sprain is an acute injury typically caused by sudden movement that damages one or more ligaments. There are multiple types of ankle sprain and a variety of causes.

Types of Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains are divided into categories. The category of sprain depends on the severity of the damage done to the ligament or ligaments.
  • Grade I sprain: The ligament(s) stretch, but do not tear
  • Grade II sprain: The ligament tears partially
  • Grade III sprain: The ligament tears completely
These injuries are classified further based on the location of the sprain.
Illustration of types of sprained ankles.

Inversion sprains

If you do have wounds on your feet, it is important to care for them as soon as they are spotted.

Eversion sprains

This type of sprain occurs when the inner ligaments are damaged by the foot twisting or turning outward, with pain felt on the inner ankle.

Symptoms of an Ankle Sprain

There are multiple symptoms that let you know whether you have an ankle sprain. The most common is pain, especially when putting weight on the injured foot. Other symptoms include:
  • Bruising and/or swelling
  • Difficulty walking
  • Ankle Instability
  • Tenderness around the ankle
You may also hear a crack or pop when the injury occurs.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Ankle Sprains

To determine whether you have an ankle sprain and what type of sprain it may be, Dr. Sana will examine your ankle, foot, and leg to assess the damage. The doctor may also order diagnostic imagery, such as an MRI, ultrasound, or X-ray. These tests help rule out other causes for your symptoms, such as foot fractures. Treating a sprained ankle almost always involves combining the following methods:
  • Rest: The only way to ensure the ankle fully heals is to keep weight off it and allow it to rest.
  • Ice: You should apply an ice pack to the ankle for about 15 to 20 minutes every few hours to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Compression: Typically, this is accomplished by wrapping an elastic bandage around the ankle to reduce swelling. Take care to ensure the wrapping isn't too tight.
  • Elevation: It is important to elevate the injured ankle above heart level to help control swelling and inflammation.
This treatment is often referred to as RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Dr. Sana may also recommend over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen.
Rearview image of sprained ankle black and white xray

How to Avoid Ankle Sprains

An ankle sprain is caused by the foot being forced out of its natural position, whether it be the result of tripping, falling, or simply setting your foot down wrong. Your risk of an ankle sprain increases if you are not physically fit, as lowered flexibility and strength leave you more susceptible to injuries in general. Other risk factors include:
  • Wearing improper shoes
  • Walking or running on uneven surfaces
  • Playing sports
The best way to prevent ankle sprains is to keep an eye on where you’re going and wear the appropriate shoes for whatever you are doing.