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What is an Ankle Sprain?

You walk out to start the coffee, promptly step on one of the toys your children have left on the floor and roll your ankle. Congratulations, it’s likely that you’ve joined the legions of orthopedic patients who have suffered from an ankle sprain. You can rest assured that an ankle sprain is one of the most common orthopedic injuries, with over 2 million ankle sprains in the U.S. every year. You limp over to make the coffee anyway.


But what is exactly is an ankle sprain?

Ligaments hold bones together to add stability, and a ‘sprain’ occurs when those ligaments become injured. An ankle sprain is an injury to ligaments about the ankle, typically occurring after a twisting mechanism. For example, “rolling” your ankle by stepping on a small object or stepping into a hole.


What’s the difference between a high ankle sprain and a low ankle sprain?

The primary difference between the two types of ankle sprains is the location on the ankle. Most ankle sprains are low sprains and caused by inverting your ankle or rolling it inwards. The ligaments on the outside of the ankle are injured. Often there is significant pain, swelling, and even bruising on the outside of the ankle. You can also get pain on the inside of your ankle.

A ‘high’ ankle sprain is an injury to the ligaments between the two bones in the leg (the tibia and fibula). If the foot is planted, and your ankle twists out (instead of twisting in), you can sustain a high ankle sprain.


How long does it take for an ankle sprain to heal?

Ankle sprains take from 2 to 16 weeks to heal, but it depends on the severity of the injury. After examining your ankle sprain, a physician will diagnose it with a “grade” from 1 to 3 depending on the amount of tearing, swelling, and pain with weightbearing. Typically, patients are assigned a grade 1-2 for mild injuries or 2-3 for more severe injuries.


How do you treat an ankle sprain?

That depends on the severity of your injury. There are several self-treatment options that you can begin at home, but your ankle sprain might require medical devices or further examination.

After an ankle sprain, we recommend an x-ray of the ankle to rule out any fracture. Southwest Orthopedic Group has in office radiographs to expedite your ankle sprain diagnosis.



The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) has more information about ankle sprain at FootCareMD.


For more questions or to set up an evaluation, contact Dr. Stautberg’s office at 281-977-4870.











Eugene Stautberg, MD

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