A sprain is an injury to a ligament, a strong, fibrous band of tissue that connects one bone to another, providing:
Sprains occur when a ligament is:
Ankle sprains most often occur when the ankle is twisted or bent and the ligament is forced beyond its normal range of movement. You might also sprain your ankle during a:
Activities like hiking, running, and rock climbing are also associated with ankle sprains, especially when you don’t warm up properly before beginning your activity or when you don’t wear supportive shoes. Most ankle sprains occur in the area where the bones of the ankle join with the bones of the foot, but in a few cases, a sprain can occur in the ligaments that join the foot with the lower leg. These sprains are sometimes referred to as high ankle sprains.
Many patients confuse sprains with strains, which involve tendons or muscles rather than ligaments. Some very severe injuries can result in a piece of bone being pulled off when the ligament itself is torn.
Ankle sprains can cause different symptoms, depending on the severity of the sprain, its location, and other factors.
The most common symptoms include:
Some ligament injuries are accompanied by a popping noise as the ligament snaps back and forth or tears.
Dr. Blue will begin your treatment with a careful evaluation of the ankle, foot, and lower leg to evaluate the sprain and to rule out other possible injuries that may cause the same or similar symptoms. In many cases, he’ll order an X-ray to provide in-depth information about the injury that can help guide treatment.
Some mild sprains can be treated with:
Bandages, casting, or splints can provide support to the area during healing. Dr. Blue also may recommend you use a cane or crutches when walking to prevent additional damage to the ankle. In a few cases, he may recommend surgery to repair a ligament that’s been badly torn.
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