Ankle sprain

The ankle sprain is the most common injury to the foot. A sprain is the stretching or tearing of the ligaments which are around the ankle and hold the ankle bones together.


The cause of an ankle sprain is usually when the foot rolls in (an inversion sprain) or out (an eversion sprain) a twisting motion or a direct blow.


When a sprain occurs you can often hear a pop or a click from the ankle and there is likely to be chronic ankle pain. Later the ankle swells which can be on both inside and outside of the ankle. Possible discoloration may appear.


For healing and recovery and to ease your ankle pain, the rice procedure should be administered immediately. Follow the RICE procedure for more information. No weight should be put on the ankle for at least 24 hours or more. Use crutches until you can put weight on your ankle without feeling any pain when walking. Apply ice to the ankle for 15 minutes 4 times a day for the first 24 hours. To apply ice place a towel to the ice pack and skin to avoid an ice burn.

Use a soft elasticized bandage to bind the foot from the toes to above the ankle. This will help the swelling and also help the ankle to heal faster. Rest with the leg elevated above heart level, this will help the blood and edema drain away from the ankle and help reduce swelling. Your ankle pains will soon be forgotten and you can start to strengthen it.
Try to avoid heat of any kind. An example would be to not have hot showers or apply heat penetrating heat as this can be harmful.


A sprained ankle usually takes about 4 to 8 weeks to heal. This of course depends on the severity of the injury; a ligament can be stretched, slightly torn or fully torn so of course this will determine how long your ankle will take to heal.

How to Prevent and protect your ankle from further injury

Protecting your ankle from further injury is important because after a sprain the risk of further injury to the ankle is increased by as much as 40% - 50% but if exercises are performed this will decrease the risk of further injury in the future.

Wear shoes that have good support or shoes that comfortably allow you to wear a brace inside. Avoid playing on uneven ground and slippery services. Always warm up before you participate in physical activity. This will increase the body and muscle temperature. The blood and oxygen will increase around the working muscles and also this lubricates the muscles, joints and connective tissues. This will help to prevent injury from sudden stretching.
Continue performing your ankle strengthening and flexibility exercises after you have returned playing your sport. Even whilst watching television toes can be wiggled and feet can be flexed.

Ankle fractures

It is extremely difficult to determine if the ankle has a fracture as well as a strained or torn ligament. Follow the RICE procedure for two days but if pain and swelling still persist seek medical advice as this indicates that there is a possible fracture. Your ankle pain may not be any worse than for a sprain so care should be taken.

Is your ankle pain persistent?

If your ankle is stiff or ankle movements are painful after 4-6 weeks following a sprain, it could mean that the ligaments have healed but mobility of the joint is not as it should be. This could be because of scar tissue which stiffens joints. It is advisable to seek medical advice as a cortisone injection may be needed, or manipulation may help. There is also the possibility of lose particles in the area which can be treated.