An ankle sprain is an injury to the tough bands of tissue (ligaments) that surround and connect the bones of the leg to the foot. The injury typically happens when you accidentally twist or turn your ankle in an awkward way. This can stretch or tear the ligaments that hold your ankle bones and joints together. A sprained ankle is a common injury that occurs when the ankle ligaments are torn or stretched too far, often after a fall, or if you roll or twist your ankle. The majority of sprains heal on their own but treatment to strengthen the injured muscles can prevent future sprains
The types of Ankle Twist
There are three types of ankle sprains based on how much ligament damage occurred:
- Mild: The ligament fibers stretched slightly or there is a very small tear. Your ankle will have minor swelling and tenderness to the touch.
- Moderate: The ligament is torn, but it isn’t a complete tear. Your ankle has swelling over the injury and it hurts to move.
- Severe: The ligament is torn completely. Your ankle has significant swelling, the injury is painful and walking is difficult.
Causes of Ankle Twist
Most ankle sprains happen when the ankle twists, or when the foot rolls onto its side. Most happen during athletic activities. But you don’t have to be playing sports to injure ankle sprains that can happen from taking an awkward step or tripping on the stairs. Rolling or twisting the ankle causes ankle sprains.
The most common ankle sprains are the result of:
- Falling or tripping on uneven surfaces.
- Landing incorrectly after a jump.
- Losing balance.
- Participating in sports that involve rolling or twisting your foot (basketball, football, soccer, tennis)
- Uneven surfaces: Walking or running on uneven surfaces or poor field conditions may increase the risk of an ankle sprain.
- Prior ankle injury: Once you’ve sprained your ankle or had another type of ankle injury, you’re more likely to sprain it again.
- Poor physical condition: Poor strength or flexibility in the ankles may increase the risk of a sprain when participating in sports.
- Improper shoes: Shoes that don’t fit properly or aren’t appropriate for an activity, as well as high-heeled shoes in general, make ankles more vulnerable to injury.
Symptoms of ankle twist
Symptoms of a twisted ankle vary depending on the severity of the injury. They may include:
- Pain, especially when you bear weight on the affected foot
- Tenderness when you touch the ankle
- Restricted range of motion
- Instability in the ankle
- Popping sensation or sound at the time of injury
Ankle twist treatment
For the majority of ankle sprains, healthcare providers recommend using the PRICE method for the first 24-48 hours after injury. PRICE stands for protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation. To reduce swelling, compress the ankle with an elasticized wrap, such as an ACE bandage or elastic ankle sleeve. When seated, elevate your ankle as high as you comfortably can —to the height of your hip, if possible. In the first 24 hours, avoid anything that might increase swelling, such as hot showers, hot packs, or heat rubs.
- Protection: Use crutches or apply a splint or brace to limit the use of your injured ankle.
- Rest: Limit physical activities that may cause stress to the sprain (no running, jumping, or exercising).
- Ice: Apply ice or a cold pack in a towel to your ankle in 20-minute increments to reduce swelling.
- Compression: Gently wrap your ankle in an elastic bandage to help decrease swelling.
- Elevation: Raise your ankle on pillows while you’re sitting or lying down so that it’s higher than your heart.
If your sprain is very painful and swollen or you’re having trouble walking and putting pressure on your ankle, visit your healthcare provider for treatment.
Prevention Ankle Twist
- Maintain good muscle strength by exercising regularly.
- Warm up and stretch before exercise and physical activity.
- Pay attention to uneven surfaces where you’re walking or running.
- Slow down or stop if you feel tired during activities or exercise.
- Wrapping the affected ankle in an elastic bandage.
- Wearing a brace, if necessary.
- Performing strengthening exercises.
- Avoiding high heels.
- Warm up before exercising.
- Wearing sturdy, quality footwear.