The sudden traction on a muscle resulting in a partial or complete tear of the ligaments (strong bands of tissue) that support the ankle.
An ankle sprain can be classified into the following three categories:
- Grade 1 sprain – involves only minor tearing or stretching of the ankle ligament tissue. The ankle remains stable enough to heal on its own.
- Grade 2 sprain – involves partial tearing to the ankle ligament tissue, often involving damage to two different ligaments.
- Grade 3 sprain – involves complete tearing of two to three ankle ligaments with severe joint instability.
Sudden stretching or twisting of the ankle ligaments, often associated with sports or stepping on uneven surfaces, are the common causes of ankle sprains.
Common symptoms of an ankle sprain can include pain, swelling and bruising around the ankle and discomfort when putting pressure on the affected area.
For an ankle sprain, initial treatment involves catering to the affected area by applying ice and wrapping it with a tight bandage. Elevating the ankle and using crutches can also be used to avoid further trauma to the injury. If the sprain involved more severe tearing of the ankle ligaments, surgery and physical therapy may be needed to fix and strengthen the injured area.