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.