An ankle sprain is damage to the ankle ligaments, most commonly caused by a single sudden incident, such as when your foot rolls, twists or turns beyond its normal range of motion. A serious sprain may involve partial or complete tear of a ligament.
Symptoms include feeling that the ankle gave way at the time of injury, pain on weight bearing, swelling and bruising.
Ankle sprains stretch the ankle ligaments beyond their normal range. The sprain can be caused by eversion - overstretching the ligaments on the inside of the ankle when the foot turns outwards - or inversion – overstretching the ligaments on the outside of the ankle when the heel or foot turns inwards.
Treatment for uncomplicated sprains usually consists of rest, keeping the weight off the ankle for the first 48 hours, applying ice immediately and then for 20 minutes every couple of hours after, compression with an elastic bandage and elevation of the foot.
More severe strains may need firmer immobilisation in a cast or brace. Rehabilitation and strengthening the joint is important after this.
Last Reviewed: 09 August 2009