A sprained ankle is an injury that occurs when you bend, twist or turn your ankle in a strange way. This can stretch or tear resistant bands of tissue (ligaments) that help keep the ankle bones together.
The ligaments help to stabilize the joints avoiding excessive movement. The ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments are forced beyond their normal range of motion. Most ankle sprains involve injuries to the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle.
The treatment of ankle sprain depends on the severity of the injury. Although personal care measures and over-the-counter pain relievers may be enough, you may need a medical evaluation to reveal the extent of the ankle sprain and to determine the appropriate treatment.
The signs and symptoms of a sprained ankle vary according to the severity of the injury. Some of them are:
Pain, especially when you support the weight on the affected foot
Light pain when touching the ankle
Limited range of motion
Instability in the ankle
Sound or clicking sensation at the time of injury
When to see the doctor
Call your doctor if you feel pain in the ankle and you have it swollen, and you think it could be a sprain. Sometimes personal care measures are enough but talk to your doctor to see if they should evaluate your ankle. If the signs and symptoms are severe, you may have considerable damage to a ligament or broken an ankle bone or lower leg.
When you force the ankle out of its normal position a sprain occurs, which can cause one or more of the ankle ligaments to stretch or tear completely or partially.
The causes of a sprained ankle may include:
A fall that makes you twist your ankle
Falling badly on one foot after jumping or spinning
Walking or exercising on an uneven surface
Another person stepping on you during a sporting activity
Some factors that increase the risk of a sprained ankle are:
Sports practice Ankle sprains are frequent sports injuries, especially in sports that require jumping, changing directions quickly or stretching or twisting the feet, such as basketball, tennis, football, soccer and trail running.
Irregular surfaces. Walking or running on uneven surfaces or in a poorly maintained field can increase the risk of an ankle sprain.
Previous ankle injuries Once the ankle sprains or suffers another type of injury, it is more likely to sprain again.
Poor physical condition If you do not have enough strength or flexibility in your ankles, you may have a higher risk of spraining when you practice sports.
Inadequate shoes Footwear that does not fit properly or is not suitable for a certain activity, as well as high-heeled shoes in general, makes the ankles more vulnerable to injury.
Not properly treating a sprained ankle, performing activities too soon after ankle sprain or suffering repeated ankle sprains can bring the following complications:
Chronic ankle pain
Chronic instability of the ankle joint
Arthritis in the ankle joint
- The following tips can help you prevent a sprained ankle or prevent it from recurring:
- Perform a warm-up before exercising or playing sports.
- Be careful when walking, running or working on an uneven surface.
- Use an immobilization device or weakened or previously injured ankle strap.
- Wear shoes that fit properly and that are made for your activity.
- Minimizes the use of high-heeled shoes.
- Do not practice sports or participate in activities for which you are not prepared.
- Maintain good muscular strength and flexibility.
Practice stability training, including balance exercises.