Sprained ankle

A sprained ankle is an injury that occurs when you roll, twist or turn your ankle in an awkward way. This can stretch or tear the tough bands of tissue (ligaments) that help hold your ankle bones together.

Ligaments help stabilize joints, preventing excessive movement. A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments are forced beyond their normal range of motion. Most sprained ankles involve injuries to the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle.

Treatment for a sprained ankle depends on the severity of the injury. Although self-care measures and over-the-counter pain medications may be all you need, a medical evaluation might be necessary to reveal how badly you've sprained your ankle and to put you on the path to recovery.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Signs and symptoms of a sprained ankle include:

  • Pain, especially when you bear weight on the affected foot
  • Swelling and, sometimes, bruising
  • Restricted range of motion

Some people hear or feel a "pop" at the time of injury.

When to see a doctor

Call your doctor if you have pain and swelling in your ankle and you suspect a sprain. Self-care measures may be all you need, but talk to your doctor to discuss whether you should have your ankle evaluated. If your signs and symptoms are severe, it's possible you may have broken a bone in your ankle or lower leg.

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