When you catch that fly ball, but twist your ankle when you land, you’ve just become one of the 25,000 men, women, and children who sprain their ankles each day. You can get help from Dr. Neil Zwiebel, at Park East Podiatry in New York, New York. If you live, work, or play in the New York City area and think you’ve sprained your ankle, call the helpful Park East Podiatry team or book a consultation online.
Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
What’s a sprained ankle?
A sprain refers to damage to your ligaments. Ligaments are the thick, elastic-like bands that connect your bones to one another and give them stability.
You can sprain your ankle if you twist, turn, or roll your ankle and stretch one or more of your ankle ligaments beyond their normal range of motion. Doctors classify sprained ankles into three different types, based on the kind of movement that caused them.
Ranging from most common to least common, the three types of ankle sprain are:
- Lateral inversion sprain — foot rolls inward, injuring ligaments on outer side of ankle (especially the anterior talofibular ligament)
- Medial eversion sprain — foot rolls outward, injuring ligaments on inner side of ankle
- High ankle sprain (aka syndesmosis) — foot rolls outward and leg rolls inward
How can I tell if I have a sprained ankle?
The symptoms of a sprained ankle vary according to how much ligament damage has occurred:
- First degree – slight stretching of one or more ligaments causes mild tenderness
- Second degree – partial tearing of a ligament causes moderate tenderness and swelling, as well as possible ankle instability
- Third-degree – complete ligament tear results in severe pain, swelling, and ankle instability
What are the risk factors for a sprained ankle?
You are at increased risk for a sprained ankle if you:
- Play competitive sports, run, hike, or dance
- Have injured your ankle before
- Walk or run on uneven surfaces
- Wear ill-fitting shoes, particularly high heels
- Are in poor physical condition
How can I treat my sprained ankle?
Treatment for sprained ankles varies by degree, too. First-line treatment for any sprain is the RICE protocol (rest, icing, compression, elevation).
You may also need:
- First degree – bandage wrap
- Second degree – ankle brace or walking boot
- Third degree – cast or walking boot
Third-degree sprains that aren’t treated or don’t respond to treatment can cause permanent ankle instability. Professional athletes or men and women who repeatedly sprain their ankles may require surgery to repair or tighten their ligaments.