Ankle Sprain



Ankle sprains may be caused by:

  • Falling
  • Sudden twisting of the ankle, such as from:
    • Stepping on an uneven surface or into a hole
    • Taking an awkward step when running, jumping, or stepping up or down
    • Rolling onto the ankle when playing sports or exercising

Risk Factors

Ankle sprains are more common in teenagers, young adults, and people who are active in sports. Some sports that may raise the risk are basketball, football, and ice hockey.

Other things that may raise the risk of an ankle sprain are:

  • A prior ankle sprain
  • Limited range of motion in the ankle
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Poor muscle strength



Ankle sprains can result in:

  • Pain, swelling, and bruising around the ankle
  • Ankle weakness
  • Problems putting weight on the ankle, such as when walking or standing


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. Questions will also be asked about how the injury happened. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the ankle. This is enough to make the diagnosis.

Pictures may be taken to make sure the ankle is not broken. This can be done with:

  • X-rays
  • MRI scan



Supportive Care

The goal of treatment is to ease pain and improve movement. This may be done with:

  • Ice and rest to ease pain and swelling
  • An ankle brace to keep the ankle from moving as it heals
  • Medicine to ease pain and swelling


The risk of an ankle sprain may be lowered by:

  • Using the right techniques when playing sports
  • Stretching and strengthening the ligaments that support the ankle

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.