Sprained Ankle – A Basic Guide

What is a sprained ankle? Well a sprained ankle is when you damage the band of ligaments that connect the bones together at the ankle. A minor sprain is when a ligament is stretched or partially torn; a severe strain is when the ligament is completely torn. A strain however is slightly different. A strain occurs when you stretch or pull a muscle.


The causes of an ankle sprain are often when an unnatural twisting motion occurs, for example when the foot is planted awkwardly, when the ground is uneven, or when an unusual amount of force is applied to the joint.

The most common type of ankle sprain is called an inversion sprain. Half of all ankle sprains happen when participating in sport. They are more common in sports such as football, basketball, and volleyball as these involve running and jumping, landing from a jump, fast changes in direction or lots of stop-starts.


When a sprain occurs there is sometimes a snapping or popping sound or a feeling of your ankle "giving way" as a ligament is torn. A sprain is often very painful, with the pain gradually getting worse when you move your ankle. With a severe sprain, you may not be able to bear weight on your leg.

You may well suffer with swelling and bruising. Although bruising can take up to 24 hours to manifest itself, the swelling usually happens soon after the injury. The swelling around your ankle can make it difficult to move your foot, and your ankle may feel unstable. You may also find that the area is warm to the touch.


When an injury occurs you should always follow the price protocol immediately to help ease the pain, and help reduce any long term problems that may occur. The price protocol is

– P – pressure
– R – rest
– I – ice
– C – compression
– E – elevation

After a few days (only once the swelling has abated should this be done) it may be soothing to apply heat to the injured ankle as this will promote blood flow to the area.

Over the counter painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs can help reduce pain and swelling.

If however after two to four weeks your ankle still remains very painful and swollen and you still can not bear any weight on it, then you should seek medical advice as soon as you can.

Sprain Prevention

A good supportive ankle brace can be worn. Make sure you can still move your ankle so you do not become reliant on the support, as you also want to strengthen the muscles.