Treating a Sprained Ankle
Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
A sprained ankle is one of the most common orthopedic injuries. Every day, about 25,000 people in the U.S. suffer an ankle sprain. Ankle sprains occur in both athletes and those with sedentary lifestyles, and they can occur during sports or when walking to carry out daily activities.
A sprain is actually an injury to the ligaments of the ankle joint, which are elastic, band-like structures that hold the bones of the ankle joint together and prevent excess turning and twisting of the joint. In normal movement, the ligaments can stretch slightly and then retract back to their normal shape and size. A sprain results when the ligaments of the ankle have been stretched beyond their limits. In severe sprains, the ligaments may be partially or completely torn.
To diagnose a sprained ankle, your doctor may order X-raysor other imaging studies to confirm that a bone has not been broken.