What is an ankle sprain?
A sprain is a damage to the bands of tissue (ligaments) that hold bones together at the joint. Ankle sprains are common because of the pressure exerted on the ankles every now and then.
Lateral view of the human ankle
What are the symptoms?
A sprained ankle will be painful, swollen, and may feel warm to touch. You may not be able to move the foot or stand with it initially. Feeling a pop or tear might mean that you have completely torn the ligaments, and there could be an associated fracture at the ankle too during the twist.
What treatments work?
When you suspect a sprain, you need to rest the ankle and avoid putting much weight on it for a few days until the pain subsides.
You can use ice to reduce the swelling as soon as possible after the sprain. You could dip the foot in ice water for about 5-10 minutes, or apply an ice pack for 20-30 minutes.
You can use ice on the sprain every few hours for the first two days after which this may no longer help.
A fairly tight elastic bandage should be applied onto the ankle to reduce its movement and the associated pain. Follow the image link
Rest the foot on a stool or table when you sit down.
After the first few days during which the pain subsides, you should start getting up and about. This helps the foot get back to normal function faster, and may help prevent the ankle from giving way again in future.
Painkillers like ibuprofen may be useful to reduce the pain and swelling. You should only take them for a few days only to avoid developing stomach ulcers.
What will happen to me?
Most people make a good recovery from ankle sprains, but more serious sprains need longer to heal. It can take up to a year for severe sprains to be pain free. Severe muscle and ligament tears may not heal completely, and can lead to some longer-term pain and loss of stability.