Understand more about Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains are a very common injury seen in both the athletic and non-athletic patient populations. Ankle sprains can be the result of high impact or low impact trauma.

Treatment Options

  • Ice
  • Physical Therapy
  • NSAIDs
  • Custom Orthotics
  • Braces or Cast
  • Surgery


Pain in the back of the ankle and heel, swelling, redness, warmth, difficulty walking, and stiffness

What is an ankle sprain?

Ligaments help stabilize the ankle joint and prevent excess motion. Ankle injuries occur when ligaments are stretched beyond their normal range of motion and the ankle moves in an awkward motion beyond the normal range of that joint. The most common mechanism of ankle sprain is a combination of plantarflexion and inversion, or a downward-inward motion of the foot about the ankle. When this takes place, the 3 main outer ankle ligaments stretch or tear depending on the severity. With severe ankle injuries, fractures and joint displacement can occur.

Ankle sprains are evaluated with a careful history and thorough physical exam. In conjunction with a good history and physical, there are other in-office diagnostic modalities in which we can further evaluate ankle sprains. Digital X-Rays are done in-office to rule out any bone injury and can instantly be reviewed with the patient. An in-office Sonogram evaluation of the ligaments and tendons allows for visualization of any soft tissue pathology. For severe ankle trauma, or when conservative therapy is not effective, a CT or MRI scan will allow for proper visualization of both bone and soft tissue allowing for the proper treatment course to be implemented.

Achilles Tendonitis condition


How is an ankle sprain different from a fracture?

A fracture is a break in the bone or bones of the ankle while a sprain is an injury to the ligaments. These are differentiated through a series of tests. Your podiatrist will take x-rays to look for broken bones. If not broken bones are found they may order an MRI or CT scan to evaluate the other structures in your ankle to identify where your injuries are.

If it's just a sprain do I really need to see a doctor?

Yes, seeing a doctor to identify exactly which ligaments are injured and getting the proper bracing system put in place will be key to recovering from an ankle sprain. Ankle sprains must be treated as soon as possible after the injury for best results. Inappropriate or inadequate care of an ankle fracture can result in long term ankle pain, swelling, and repeated ankle sprains for life.

I sprain my ankle a lot. Is there something I can do?

Chronic ankle sprains indicate that you may have some weakness or loose ligaments in your ankle. This is a common and painful problem that often arises from an ankle sprain that did not heal properly. You should see your podiatrist for testing to identify which structures are weakened. Often a brace and physical therapy can significantly aid in preventing these injuries. If the issue continues surgical tightening of the ligaments may be necessary to restore proper function.