By: Sarang Desai- Orthopedic Surgeon | Foot & Ankle
What is an ankle sprain?
Ankle sprains are one of the most common sports related injuries that occur
in people of all ages. In fact, ankle sprains are thought to happen every
second of the day! Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments that support
the ankle are stretched to the outside, and sometimes the inside of the
ankle, resulting in the stretching or tearing of the ligaments.
How do you know if you have a sprained ankle?
Ankle sprains occur when the ankle forcefully rolls to the outside or inside.
You may hear a popping sound, experience pain or swelling around your
ankle, or be unable to bear weight due to instability. Patients will often
describe a goose egg where the ligament is torn and swelling occurs. The
symptoms will vary in severity depending on the degree of the sprain.
How do you treat ankle sprains?
Typically, I place my patients in a boot for 10-14 days; allowing the patient
to walk in the boot as tolerated. This allows time for the pain and swelling
in the ankle to improve. Additionally, during this time I will have my
patients work on gentle Achilles stretching and rotating the ankle outward.
Next, I place patients in an ankle brace for an additional 4 weeks and
assign them ankle rehabilitation exercises.
Patients can expect it to take anywhere from 6-12 weeks for their ankle
sprain to heal depending on the severity of their injury. Patients can
usually resume activities when the pain subsides and has reasonable function
of their ankle.
It is important to remember that ankle sprains are ligaments that have
been damaged, and these ligaments need time to heal. If you think you
have a sprained ankle, you should book an appointment with your orthopedist
as soon as possible to insure you do not further compromise function of
Are there any long-term issues after an ankle sprain?
Out of all the patients I see with ankle sprains, only a very small percentage
will need surgery. If a patient is not progressing as I would expect,
or if the pain persists, I will often order a MRI to further evaluate
their injury. In my experience, the most common causes of pain in patients
after 3 months post injury are ankle impingement (when inflammatory or
scar tissue impinges in the ankle) or osteochondral lesion (damaged piece