Ankle Sprains

It is estimated that, on average, 25,000 people sprain their ankles in the U.S. every day. Depending on the grade of injury, you may be able to treat ankle sprains at home. However, severe injuries that involve ankle sprains need medical attention.

If you are seeking treatment for a foot or ankle condition, make an appointment with our foot and ankle specialists at Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Center. We serve patients throughout Greater Columbus.

Do I Need Surgery?

Visiting an orthopedic surgeon doesn’t mean that surgery is necessary. Our orthopedic doctors always prefer to use non-surgical procedures to treat injuries.

What Our Patients Say

Always treated like a person, not a number. Treated with courtesy and respect. I drive 3hrs to be there. I arrive early and never have to wait long. Employees are very pleasant and knowledgable. The doctors are well educated and concerned about your problems, treatment, and recovery. Would recommend Ortho Foot & Ankle to anyone. There’s no better in my opinion.” — Rodney B.

What Is an Ankle Sprain?

An ankle sprain occurs when you overstretch or tear the ligaments in your ankle.

Your ankle has 4 major ligaments, one on the inside (medial) side of your ankle and 3 on the outside (lateral). Ligaments are strong bands of fibrous tissue that connect bone to bone. Your ankle ligaments tie together with ankle bones and support and strengthen your ankle joint.

Ankle sprains occur when you twist, roll, or turn your ankle beyond its normal range of motion. Most ankle sprains happen on the outside of the ankle. This is known as an inversion sprain.

Treatment for an ankle sprain will depend on the severity of your injury. Some mild sprains may be taken care of at home. However, a medical assessment is the only way to determine the appropriate treatment. In the case of a severe ankle sprain, you may require surgery.

An older woman with an ankle sprain in Columbus, OH.

What Causes an Ankle Sprain?

A runner needing treatment for an ankle sprain in Columbus, OH.

Most ankle sprains occur when you twist or turn your foot or ankle. Ankle sprains can occur unexpectedly during the following activities:

The Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle

Most ankle sprains occur when you twist or turn your foot or ankle. Ankle sprains can occur unexpectedly during the following activities:

A chronic ankle sprain is when you have pain for longer than 4 to 6 weeks.

What Are the Different Grades of an Ankle Sprain

Your foot and ankle doctor will grade your ankle sprain according to the severity of the injury. The grade is based on the damage sustained during the injury.

Grade 1 Ankle Sprain

Grade 2 Ankle Sprain

Grade 3 Ankle Sprain

When to See a Doctor

You should see your doctor if you have pain and swelling in your ankle and suspect a sprain. Although many sprains can be taken care of at home, a doctor can evaluate the severity of the ankle sprain and give you the necessary treatment. If the ankle sprain is showing severe symptoms, you will want to rule out the possibility of lower leg fractures.

How to Treat a Sprained Ankle

The treatment you will need for a sprained ankle will depend on the severity of your ankle injury. Treatment aims to reduce pain and swelling, promote healing of your ligament, restore ankle function, and prevent future ankle sprains. If you don’t allow sufficient time for your ankle to heal, you could be at risk of chronic ankle sprains.

What You Can Do at Home

If you have sprained your ankle, the R.I.C.E. method will help with any swelling. You should continue this treatment for the first 2 or 3 days. The R.I.C.E method consists of the following:

  • Rest — Avoid bearing weight on your injured ankle.
  • Ice — Apply ice on your ankle for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours while you’re awake. You should talk with your doctor if you have vascular disease or diabetes before applying ice.
  • Compression — Wrapping an elastic bandage around your ankle can help reduce swelling. Don’t wrap the bandage so tight that you stop the circulation to your feet. You should start wrapping at the furthest part away from your heart.
  • Elevation — Rest your injured ankle in a position above the level of your heart, especially at night. This will help reduce swelling.

To help with the pain and swelling, you can take over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, or acetaminophen.

During recovery, you may need the assistance of crutches to walk. You may also benefit by walking with an ankle support brace. If you have a severe sprain, you may need a cast or walking boot to keep your ankle immobilized while it heals.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be done as soon as the swelling begins to subside. You will be given exercises to restore your range of motion, strength, flexibility, and stability of your ankle.

Your physical therapist will also want to work on your stability and balance. This will help to retrain your muscles and ligaments to work together. This is an important step in order to prevent ankle sprains from reoccurring.

Before returning to sports, your physical therapist will test the function of your ankle in certain movements.


Surgery is not usually necessary to treat an ankle sprain. In fact, even a torn ligament will heal if it is immobilized in place. However, surgery may be required if you have repeated ankle sprains or chronic ankle instability.

Procedures, such as lateral ankle ligament reconstruction, can tighten an overstretched tendon and provide stability.

Key Takeaways

While many ankle sprains can be treated at home, it’s important that a medical professional evaluate the degree of your injury. Proper treatment and sufficient recovery time can help you prevent future sprains.

Schedule Your Appointment Today

If you are looking for ankle sprain diagnosis and treatment, make an appointment with foot and ankle specialists at Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Center. We have multiple locations conveniently located throughout Columbus, OH. Contact our team of specialists today to get the relief you’re looking for!

Medically reviewed by Sarah M. Abshier, DPM

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