Ankle Sprains: Doctors, Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Ankle sprains are among the most common injuries to the lower extremities, with approximately 25,000 ankle sprains occurring in the U.S. on a daily basis.

Meet Our Ankle Sprain Specialists

At Seaview Orthopaedics, our foot and ankle specialists treat a high volume of ankle sprains on a monthly basis. If you have sprained your ankle, Dr. Green, Dr. Beights, Dr. Fahoury, and Dr. Hersh are happy to help you get back on your feet as quickly and safely as possible.

Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Surgeon


Schedule An Appointment with Our Ankle Sprain Specialists


What is an Ankle Sprain?

An ankle sprain is an injury to the lateral ligaments of the ankle, comprised of the anterior talofibular ligament and the calcaneofibular ligament. These are the ligaments that support and stabilize the ankle.

Ankle sprains are graded based on severity, from I to III:

  • Grade I sprains – The anterior talofibular ligament is stretched, and there may be microscopic tearing of the ligament fibers.
  • Grade II sprains – The anterior talofibular ligament is completely torn.
  • Grade III sprains – Both the anterior talofibular ligament and the calcaneofibular ligament are completely torn.

Treatment for an ankle sprain will depend on the grade of the sprain and the number of ankle sprains the patient has experienced prior to the injury.

Causes and Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle

Ankle sprains typically happen when the ankle is suddenly twisted or rolled. This can occur during sports activity, or while walking or exercising on an uneven surface, or from falling or tripping.

Pain is the first sign of an ankle sprain. Other symptoms may include swelling, bruising, and tenderness. If a ligament has completely torn, you may have felt a “pop” when the injury occurred.

The ankle may also be unstable, and you may be unable to walk on it. When the ankle is unstable, it is easy for it to shift and roll out of place. This can cause recurrent instability, which can lead to cartilage damage or an ankle fracture. In these cases, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible.

Ankle Sprain Orthopedic Examination

A physical examination is needed to determine the severity of the sprain and what treatment is needed.

During your examination, your doctor will gently press around the ankle to determine which ligaments are injured. They will also move your ankle in different directions, testing your range of motion.

Of course, a stiff, swollen ankle usually will not move much, but your doctor will be able to tell the severity of your ankle sprain based upon the amount of swelling, pain, and bruising you may have.

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Imaging Tests

Your doctor may order x-rays to rule out a broken bone, as a broken bone can cause similar symptoms of pain and swelling. Other imaging tests that may be ordered include:

Stress X-rays are taken while the ankle is being pushed in different directions, giving your foot doctor an idea of whether the ankle is moving abnormally because of injured ligaments.

An MRI may be ordered if your foot doctor suspects you have a severe injury to the ligaments, damage to the cartilage or bone of the joint surface, a small bone chip, or another problem.

An ultrasound scan allows your foot doctor to observe the ligament directly while he moves your ankle, giving him an idea of how much stability the ligament provides.

Treatment for an Ankle Sprain

Initial treatment of an ankle sprain involves a cast or a Cam boot to immobilize the ankle. After approximately 2 weeks, the patient will switch to an ankle-stabilizing orthosis.

The mainstays of treatment for an ankle sprain are rest, ice, elevation, and stabilization. Anti-inflammatory medications may be helpful for reducing pain and swelling.

Physical therapy, which is offered on-site at all six Seaview Orthopaedics offices, is also an important part of recovering from an ankle sprain. Physical therapy focuses on strengthening the ankle and on proprioception to improve stability and correct imbalance. This is necessary for true rehabilitation of an ankle sprain.

Full recovery times can range from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the severity of the sprain.

Chronic Ankle Instability Treatment

The majority of ankle sprains resolve uneventfully with conservative treatment. However, a small percentage of patients may have chronic ankle instability if the ligament heals in a stretched position and is unable to properly hold the ankle in place.

Recurrent ankle instability is linked to the development of post-traumatic ankle arthritis in the future, so surgical intervention is generally recommended to correct this problem. An MRI is typically performed before surgery to confirm damage to the tissues in the ankle.

Surgery for recurrent ankle instability usually involves arthroscopy, a procedure in which a small camera called an arthroscope is inserted into the ankle via a small incision. The arthroscope displays images from inside the ankle on a monitor in the operating room, allowing your orthopedic surgeon to perform the surgery through small incisions.

During the procedure, your orthopedic surgeon will evaluate the ankle and may remove damaged tissue. The ligaments may also be reconstructed with a suture anchor augmentation. For this procedure, Dr. Green uses the Arthrex InternalBrace™ device because it allows patients to return to work and play more quickly and with better results. He also works with Arthrex to teach other physicians how to perform the procedure with the InternalBrace™.

Sprained Ankle Treatment in Central New Jersey and Jersey Shore

At Seaview Orthopaedics, our foot and ankle specialists treat a full range of foot and ankle problems, including ankle sprains. We also offer physical therapy on-site to help you get back on your feet as soon as possible. If you would like to Book Appointment with Dr. Aron Green, Dr. Eric Beights, Dr. George Fahoury, or Dr. Ian Hersh, please call our office at (732) 660-6200.

Schedule An Appointment with Our Ankle Sprain Specialists