Common Foot and Ankle Problems & Treatments
Ankle Sprains

General Information

An ankle sprain occurs when the ankle twists, while walking or during physical activity, causing damage to the ligaments on the outside of the ankle. An audible "pop" may sometimes be heard.  

Ligaments are strong, fibrous tissues that connect one bone to another.  They provide stability to the ankle joint.  An ankle sprain may result in a partial or complete tear of a ligament or ligaments. Once torn, the ankle becomes weak, which in turn, affects ankle stability. If not addressed the instability that ensues puts people at greater risk for future ankle sprains and can result in damage to the neighboring tendons, bones and joints.


  • Swelling, bruising, and pain along the outside of the ankle.
  • Difficulty walking secondary to pain.

Causes of ankle sprains

A sudden twist of an ankle may be caused by:

  • Rolling the ankle while engaging in a sporting activity.
  • A biomechanical condition (an abnormality with a walking pattern).


Physical examination of your foot and ankle.

X-rays to rule out fracture (broken bones).

MRI or sonogram to evaluate extent of ligament injury, rule out tendon injuries and access integrity of cartilage in the ankle joint.


Treatment for an ankle sprain

Treat ankle sprains:

  • Apply ice to the area immediately.
  • You may need x-rays, depending on the severity of the ankle sprain.
  • Do not follow any other treatment regimes until a diagnosis is confirmed by a doctor.
  • The R.I.C.E. theory should be used: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.
  • The recovery time is usually 3 to 7 weeks, but the swelling may last for a few months.
  • In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair tendons around the ankle joint.
  • Sports orthotics and in-soles can provide stability and control, in order to prevent future occurrences of an ankle sprain.