A sprain is an injury to a ligament. Ligaments are the tough bands of tissue that hold bones together. Ligaments are relatively flexible, to allow movement, but a sharp or sudden twist can cause over-stretching or a tear. Sprains are graded on severity with Grade I being a stretched ligament, Grade II is a slight tear and Grade III is a full tear. If a person thinks they may have sprained their ankle, they should have the injury assessed by a professional to ensure appropriate treatment is made.
Ankle sprains are associated with wearing high heels. Athletes also are known to sprain their ankles. A sprain can occur if the foot lands on the ground at an awkward angle or with too much force. Ankles that have been previously sprained are more likely to be injured in this way again. Also, walking, running or playing on uneven surfaces or wearing poorly fitting shoes can make injury more likely.
There are a variety of treatments available and will be administered depending on the grade of the sprain. Rest, elevation, and ice are always prescribed to reduce swelling and allow time for the ligament to heal. Compression may be prescribed, using an elastic bandage to keep down the swelling. The doctor may suggest a brace or ankle stirrup to provide additional support. As the injury heals, it is important to allow sufficient time for full recover. Once the injured ankle retains the same range of motion as the uninjured ankle, feels as strong as the uninjured ankle and there is no pain when walking, running, sprinting and jumping, the patient should be able to return to normal activity.