Ouch! You twisted or turned your ankle in an awkward way and the result is – a sprained ankle!

A sprained ankle is one of the most common of all sports injuries…and if you have had one, you know how painful and debilitating it can be. Your runs are curtailed; you limp along; you can’t fit into your shoes and that pick-up game of basketball is but a distant memory.

Ankle sprains stretch or tear the ligaments that hold your ankle bones together, stabilize your joints and prevent excessive movement. When those ligaments are forced beyond their normal range of motion, a sprain results. Most ankle sprains involve injuries to the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle.

  • Signs that you have sprained your ankle – besides the intense pain of bearing weight on the affected foot – are swelling, sometimes bruising, pain upon touching your ankle and restricted range of motion. Additionally, you may have felt a loud “pop” at the time of the injury.
  • Treatment for a sprained ankle depends on the severity of the sprain. If you have tried self-care measures, such as ice, elevating your foot, avoiding walking and taking over-the-counter pain medication…to no avail…you should seek a medical evaluation to determine the extent of the sprain.
  • Even though ankle sprains are very common injuries, they are not always minor. Repeated sprains to the same ankle can result in long-term joint pain or weakness.

Sports that require the twisting or rolling of your foot, such as trail running, football, basketball, tennis and soccer are perfect arenas for sprained ankles. If you are overweight, you are even more vulnerable. Playing on an uneven surface also increases your risk.

If you leave a serious sprain untreated, and continue to engage in the sport, you may find that you are in chronic pain and may even set yourself up for early-onset arthritis in that joint. Unfortunately, once you sprain your ankle, or have another type of ankle injury, the more likely you are to sprain it again.