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Ankle Sprain | Most Frequently Asked Questions


What Is a Sprained Ankle?

A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments of the ankle joint are stretched or torn due to excessive twisting or bending force on the lower leg. Ankle sprains are classified in three grades, with grade I being a mild sprain, grade II being a moderate sprain and grade III being a severe sprain. Symptoms of a sprained ankle can vary depending on the severity of the injury but may include pain, swelling and difficulty walking. Immediate treatment for an ankle sprain is essential to minimize pain and swelling. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) should be implemented as soon as possible. Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be used to manage pain and discomfort related to the injury. More severe ankle sprains may require use of crutches, moonboot, brace or cast and even surgery depending on the severity of the sprain. An osteopath or physiotherapist will determine when to implement rehabilitation exercises to improve the ankles range of motion, strength and proprioception to improve balance and coordination around the ankle joint to regain optimal function and reduce the risk of re-injury. 









Should I get an x-ray for a sprained ankle?

If you have sprained your ankle, it may be beneficial to get an x-ray to rule out any underlying fractures. You should consult with your osteopath or physiotherapist and they can assess if ordering a radiography is appropriate for your situation. Depending on the severity of the sprain, an x-ray may be recommended to confirm that there are no broken bones or other serious complications. Further imaging such as an Ultrasound or MRI may be undertaken to obtain further information about the severity of the ankle injury. 

sprained ankle xray









Is it OK to walk on a sprained ankle? 

Depending on the severity, initially it is usually not advised to walk on a sprained ankle as it may cause further injury and delay the healing process. If the sprain is mild, it may be ok to walk on it with caution with/without the use of additional support such as crutches, moonboot or brace; however, for more severe sprains, it is best to stay off the foot until it has healed completely. Seeing an osteopath or physiotherapist for an evaluation is always recommended when dealing with injuries like sprains. It is important to take proper care of a sprained ankle in order to avoid long-term complications. Resting, elevating the foot above heart level and  icing the ankle can help reduce swelling and pain, while compression bandages can provide support. 

photo of person walking








How long does it usually take for a sprained ankle to heal?

Sprained ankles are a common, yet painful injury. Depending on the severity of the sprain, it can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks for the ankle to heal. More severe sprains may require immobilization with a brace or moonboot and physical therapy in order to ensure that the ankle heals properly. Additionally, rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE) are recommended treatments for a sprained ankle. To reduce swelling and pain, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen may be taken. It is important to allow ample time for healing as returning to activity too soon may result in further damage or re-injury of the ankle. In general, it usually takes at least several weeks for a sprained ankle to heal and return to normal functioning.

A man holding his ankle







How can I prevent an ankle sprain?

Preventing an ankle sprain starts by improving the stability and strength in the ligament, tendons and muscles around the ankle. This can be done by doing stretching, strengthening and balance/proprioception exercises as recommended by your physiotherapist or osteopath. Additionally, wearing an ankle brace or support such as taping the ankle during activities that increase the risk of a sprained ankle, such as running or playing sports, may help protect against a sprain. It is also important to remember to avoid uneven surfaces or surfaces that are slippery when possible and to wear good supportive shoes. Taking these precautions can help prevent an ankle sprain from occurring and reduce the risk of re-injury if you have previously sprained your ankle.

Two women doing their workout









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