Ankle Sprains

Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains are fairly common injuries that usually occur when one twists the ankle and stretches the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.

Body Part


There are three main ligaments on the outside of the ankle that give stability. When you sprain your ankle one or more of these ligaments are frequently torn. These tears may be minor, partial or complete. The most common ligament torn is called the ATFL (anterior talofibular ligament).


There is often acute pain after the injury which may steadily get worse over the first 24 hours. Typically there is swelling and there may be bruising. You may require a medical assessment with an X-ray to ensure there is no fracture. In the more severe sprains there may be the feeling of instability a few weeks after the initial injury and this could lead to recurrent injury.


In the first 48 hours the most important treatment is controlling the swelling and pain This is achieved using the RICE approach. This means:

Resting the ankle for the first 2-3 days.
Ice which is applied intermittently for short periods at a time.
Compression and
Elevation to help reduce the swelling.

In addition to RICE, taking anti-inflammatory tablets is just as important. It has been shown that early walking helps sprained ankles heal quicker. Once a fracture is ruled out, it is important to start walking as soon as possible preferably without crutches. The more normal your gait is the better, so work on ensuring your heel strikes the ground first.
Healing normally takes 6 weeks (almost as long as a fracture) and sometimes may take even longer. Rehabilitation exercises are important to avoid re-injury and aid return to work and sport. Above is a short video demonstrating some rehabilitation exercises.