Sprained Ankle

Know Everything From Causes, Symptoms, To Treatment

Ankle sprains are a relatively common injury. They occur when the ankle ligament is overstretched or torn. This can happen from a sudden twist, fall, or impact to the ankle joint. Ankle sprains can vary in severity, with some causing mild discomfort while others result in severe pain and instability. Knowing the potential causes, symptoms, and treatment options for this type of injury will make it easier to properly manage and recover from it. Otherwise, you risk further complications and prolonged recovery time – and trying to walk on a sprained ankle can be quite painful. In fact, trying to put weight on a sprained ankle can make the injury worse, making it more difficult to heal.

Anatomy Of The Ankle – Where Does The Pain Occur?

The ankle joint consists of three types of bones: the tibia, fibula, and talus. The ankle ligaments connect these bones and provide stability to the joint. When these ligaments are stretched beyond their capacity, a sprain occurs. Ankle sprains can happen on the outside (lateral) or inside (medial) of the ankle, depending on which ligament is affected. The most commonly injured ankle ligament is the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL), which is located on the outside of the ankle.

Based on the severity of the injury, ankle sprains are classified into one of the following three grades:

  • Grade 1: A mild sprain consists of only slight stretching or microscopic tearing of the ligament. Minimal pain and swelling may occur, and the ankle can still bear weight.
  • Grade 2: A moderate sprain consists of partial tearing of the ligament. More significant pain and swelling are present, along with some bruising. Walking may be difficult or painful.
  • Grade 3: A severe sprain consists of complete tearing of the ligament. Severe pain, swelling, and bruising are present. The ankle is unable to bear weight and appears visibly deformed.

It is essential to know the grade of your sprain as it will determine the most appropriate treatment plan.

What Causes Ankle Sprains?

An ankle sprain can happen to anyone at any age. They are most commonly caused by activities that involve sudden changes in direction or movements that put excessive stress on the ligaments. Some common causes of ankle sprains include:

  • Sudden twisting, turning, or rolling of the foot: These are especially common during sports activities such as basketball, soccer, or running.
  • Falling caused by uneven surface and imbalance: Unsteady footing can cause the ankle to twist or roll, resulting in a sprain. If you’re walking on an uneven surface, be cautious, and take your time to avoid accidents.
  • Wearing improper or ill-fitting footwear: Shoes that do not provide enough support or are too loose can increase the risk of ankle sprains.
  • Weak ankle muscles: Inadequate muscle strength and flexibility in the ankle can make it more likely to sustain an injury.
  • Previous history of ankle sprains: People who have previously injured their ankles are more prone to future sprains.

Common Symptoms Of Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains can cause a range of symptoms, from mild discomfort to severe pain. How severe these symptoms are depends on the grade of the sprain and individual pain tolerance. Some of the most common symptoms of an ankle sprain include:

  • Popping feeling and sound when twisting your ankle: A popping sensation or sound may be felt or heard at the moment of injury, indicating a tear in the ligament.
  • Pain and instability in the ankle: Pain from an ankle sprain can range from mild to severe based on the grade of the sprain. The ankle may also feel unstable or give out while walking because of the weakened ligament.
  • Bruising: Swelling and bruising may develop around the affected area due to bleeding underneath the skin.
  • Unable to bear weight due to pain on the affected foot: Walking or standing may be difficult and painful, especially with more severe sprains. This can be due to the injured ligament being unable to support your weight.

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How Are Ankle Sprains Diagnosed And Evaluated?

Ankle sprains are typically diagnosed and evaluated by a healthcare professional. The following are some methods they may use to diagnose and assess whether you have an ankle sprain:

  • Physical examination: The healthcare provider will check for swelling, bruising, and instability in the ankle. They may also ask about the history of the injury and any previous ankle injuries.
  • Medical history: The healthcare provider will also ask about your medical history to rule out other conditions or injuries.
  • Imaging tests: X-rays, MRI, and CT scans may be used to confirm the diagnosis and rule out any fractures or other injuries.

What Treatment Options Are Available?

Several treatment options are available for ankle sprains, and the most appropriate one will depend on the grade of the injury. Some of the standard treatment options include:

R.I.C.E. Method

The R.I.C.E. method is a common approach used to treat mild to moderate ankle sprains. It involves:

  • Rest: Limiting any weight-bearing activity on the affected ankle to allow it to heal.
  • Ice: Applying ice to the ankle sprain can help to reduce pain and swelling. Wrap the ice pack in a towel and apply it for about 15 minutes every few hours for the first few days after the injury.
  • Compression: Wrapping an elastic bandage around the ankle can help decrease swelling and provide support.
  • Elevation: Keeping the affected ankle elevated above heart level can help reduce swelling.

Pain Medication

Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications or NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) may help manage pain and discomfort in mild to moderate ankle sprains. However, overuse or prolonged use of these medications can result in potential side effects, such as stomach irritation and liver damage.


Certain devices may be used to provide support and stability to the ankle during the healing process, including:

  • Elastic bandage: An elastic bandage can help compress the injured ankle and provide support. This helps reduce swelling and provide stability to the ankle.
  • Sports tape or ankle support: These can provide additional support and stability to the ankle during physical activity.
  • Casting or splinting: In more severe ankle sprains, a cast or splint may be used to immobilize the ankle and promote healing.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is often recommended for severe ankle sprains or those not healing correctly. A physical therapist will design a specific exercise program to help strengthen your ankle’s muscles and ligaments and improve the range of motion. Physical therapy can also help prevent future ankle sprains and improve overall balance and stability.


In rare cases, a doctor may recommend surgery for severe ankle sprains with complete ligament tears or chronic instability. Ankle surgery involves repairing or reconstructing the damaged ligament to provide stability to the ankle. Physical therapy is often necessary after surgery to aid in rehabilitation and prevent future injuries.

It’s important to note that surgery is not the first line of treatment for ankle sprains and is typically reserved for extremely severe ankle sprains. There are numerous risks associated with surgery, including infection, further damage, and prolonged recovery time. Therefore, it is only recommended when other treatment options have been unsuccessful.

Our Protocol For Managing Pain From Ankle Sprains

We can help you reduce inflammation and manage pain caused by ankle sprains through our unique protocol, which uses a Neurofunctional Pain Management approach. This means that we focus on treating the underlying neurological causes of your pain rather than just masking it with medications. Our whole-person protocol involves the use of the following drug-free, non-invasive, non-surgical, and non-chiropractic treatment modalities:


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IV Therapy

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Lifestyle Counseling

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Regain Mobility And Move Freely With Effective Pain Management

Ankle sprains can be challenging to deal with. Because day-to-day activities typically require you to stand and walk, the pain and discomfort of a sprained ankle can significantly affect your daily life and limit your ability to move freely. The issue can worsen over time if left untreated. Fortunately, our protocol offers a comprehensive and effective approach to managing the pain and inflammation associated with ankle sprains so that you can regain mobility and go back to living a pain-free life.

Bounce back from ankle sprains.

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