Ankle Sprain & Lateral Ankle

A sprain is a stretch or partial tearing of one or several ligaments. In the ankle this most commonly happens around the lateral ankle and results from an inward twisting motion.

Causes & Symptoms

Symptoms of an ankle sprain include tenderness, swelling, and stiffness. This is different than an ankle fracture in that the ankle is stable and only causes mild to moderate pain with walking. A more serious sprain may be painful to walk on. In severe ankle sprains, the ankle may give way or be too painful to walk on.

Evaluation & Treatment

Evaluation begins with a medical history, physical examination, and x-rays. A history of prior ankle injuries should be discussed. X-rays are done to rule out broken bones in the ankle or the foot.

Initial treatment is based on the extent of the injury. A majority of ankle sprains resolve with rest, ice, and elevation. A protective ankle brace or boot can help with reducing discomfort with walking. Physical therapy to strengthen the ankle ligaments and improve post injury proprioception is helpful for those who’s symptoms last longer than a few days. Recurrent ankle instability that is not improved with therapy and bracing may benefit from ligament reconstruction. Reconstruction utilizes surrounding tissue to create stability in place of the torn ligament. After reconstruction surgery the ankle is protected in a cast or boot for 6 weeks and return to activity typically takes 3-4 months.