Ankle Sprain

OPA treats a wide variety of foot & ankle conditions and offers comprehensive treatment options — including many non-surgical solutions.

What is an Ankle Sprain?

Ankle sprains are common injuries. The tibia, fibula, and talus join to form the ankle joint. The bones are connected by ligaments. An ankle sprain occurs when the strong ligaments that support the ankle stretch beyond their limits and tear. Ankle sprains range from mild to severe, depending upon how much damage there is to the ligaments

Common Causes:

    • Walking or exercising on an uneven surface
    • Falling down
    • Participating in sports that require cutting actions or rolling and twisting of the foot—such as trail running, basketball, tennis, football, and soccer

Symptoms of an Ankle Sprain may include:

    • Pain
    • Swelling
    • Bruising
    • Limited range of motion

Without proper treatment and rehabilitation, a more severe sprain can weaken your ankle—making it more likely that you will injure it again. Repeated ankle sprains can lead to long-term problems, including chronic ankle pain, arthritis, and ongoing instability.

An Orthopedic Physicians Alaska (OPA) Foot and Ankle Specialist will conduct the following to obtain the proper diagnosis to start immediate treatment for quicker recovery:

    • Obtain a medical history to check for risk factors
    • Perform a physical examination to check for symptoms and test ankle strength and flexibility
    • Order and analyze x-rays (to rule out a fracture) or MRI

After the examination, the OPA  foot and ankle specialist will determine the grade of your sprain to help develop a treatment plan. Sprains are graded based on how much damage has occurred to the ligaments.

Grade 1 Sprain (Mild):

  • Slight stretching and microscopic tearing of the ligament fibers
  • Mild tenderness and swelling around the ankle

Grade 2 Sprain (Moderate):

  • Partial tearing of the ligament
  • Moderate tenderness and swelling around the ankle
  • If the OPA specialist moves the ankle in certain ways, there is an abnormal looseness of the ankle joint

Grade 3 Sprain (Severe):

  • A complete tear of the ligament
  • Significant tenderness and swelling around the ankle
  • If the OPA specialist pulls or pushes on the ankle joint in certain movements, substantial instability occurs

Common Treatments:

Nonsurgical treatment options are commonly used to treat ankle sprains. A treatment plan usually consists of multiple treatment options:


Splinting, or a cast immobilizes the ankle. Crutches take the weight off the ankle.

Oral medications decrease nerve inflammation and pain.
Physical Therapy

One of OPA’s onsite physical therapist prescribes and monitors strengthening and stretching exercises.

Surgical treatment for ankle sprains is rare. Surgery is reserved for injuries that fail to respond to nonsurgical treatment, and for patients who experience persistent ankle instability after months of rehabilitation and nonsurgical treatment. After your surgical procedure, you will regain strength and their joint becomes strong and healthy. Patients who have their surgery performed by an OPA foot and ankle specialist fully recover.

Schedule Appointment with Our Foot & Ankle Team

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