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ankle sprain

Did I Sprain My Ankle?

by Tara Hackney, PT, DPT, OCS, KTTP1 Comment

Most people have rolled their ankle at some point in their lives – we step funny on grass, land strange after a jump, or even step off a step wrong and the ankle just twists a little (or a lot). But how do you recognize if you sprained your ankle or if it is a more serious injury?

What is a Sprain?

It is common to confuse a sprain with a strain; a strain is an injury to a tendon. Tendons connect muscle to bone.  A sprain is an injury to a ligament, which connects bone to bone. . For a sprain, we refer to an overstretch or twisting of a ligament. The most severe sprains include a tear to the ligament.

Common Causes of Ankle Sprains:

  • Walking on uneven surface and ankle twists
  • Stepping wrong off a stair or curb
  • Landing wrong after a jump, which can happen in sports like basketball, gymnastics or dance
  • Rolling ankle when wearing high heels
  • Rolling ankle when running on uneven surfaces
  • A trip or fall
  • Pivoting where a twist in the ankle occurs, such as in tennis, soccer or when running
  • Another person landing on your foot/ankle during sports activities like basketball or soccer

What are the Symptoms of an Ankle Sprain?

  • Pain over the ankle – can be on the inside, outside or both
  • Swelling of the ankle joint and into the foot
  • Painful to touch
  • Pain with placing full weight through the ankle
  • Bruising over the ankle that can go into foot
  • Difficulty moving the ankle through full range of motion
  • Feeling unstable in the ankle
  • May have a popping sound when the injury occurs

Treatment for Ankle Sprains

  • RICE- rest, ice, compression, elevation
    • Rest: avoid activities that cause pain, swelling, or discomfort
    • Ice: Ice for approximately 10-15 minutes every few hours immediately following the injury
    • Compression: Using a compression wrap or bandage can help limit swelling; make sure you are not wrapping too tightly to limit circulation
    • Elevation: elevating the injured foot can also help with swelling management
  • Bracing: some people find ankle braces to be helpful when initially returning to activity after an ankle sprain to increase their feeling of stability to the ankle.
  • Physical therapy:
    • Physical therapy can help after an ankle sprain to decrease pain and swelling, as well as to improve range of motion and strength

If you feel you have suffered an ankle sprain, please see a clinician at your closest Athletico location.

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The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

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About the Author:
Tara Hackney, a physical therapist in Marion, IA, enjoys working with all patient types, especially gymnasts, cheerleaders, and dancers. She is the prominent blogger for Athletico's Gymnastic/Cheer Program. With an orthopedic specialization and training in dry needling and Graston technique, Tara hopes to answer your questions about injuries and injury prevention in an easy-to-understand manner. She hopes to ease fears surrounding pain and injuries, address concerns about recovery, and provide tips to prevent injury. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her dog, reading, and watching her nephews play sports.

Read more health resources related to these topics:

Ankle PainSports Injuriesankle sprainankle sprainswhat is an ankle sprain

1 Comment

  1. Sandra Patterson

    Thank you for explaining that pain on either the inside, outside, or both areas of the ankle can be a symptom of a sprained ankle. The other day I fell and I think I really hurt my ankle. I think I did sprain it, so I will be sure to look around for a foot doctor that can help me recover from that.

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