Grade I ankle sprains may not have any accompanying pain, states WebMD. People with grade I sprains may also walk without a limp. A stretching of the ligaments in the ankle defines this type of sprain, while grade II ankle sprains feature partial tearing of these ligaments. In grade III sprains, the ligaments are torn. Physical activity on uneven surfaces, wearing improperly fitted shoes and playing sports that have sudden changes in movement increase the risk of an ankle sprain.
Symptoms of an ankle sprain include swelling, varying levels of pain, difficulty moving the ankle, bruising and a popping sound at the time of injury, according to WebMD. Severe ankle sprains may cause instability of the joint. Physical exams can diagnose ankle sprains, but some cases may require X-rays or an MRI. Most ankle sprains heal on their own within four to six weeks. The use of ice, compression, elevation, braces and anti-inflammatory painkillers can expedite the recovery process. Grade III sprains can heal on their own, but rare cases may require surgery.
Stretching, wearing proper support and using caution on uneven surfaces can prevent an ankle sprain, explains WebMD. People who have a history of ankle sprains are at increased risk of ankle sprains in the future. Immediately ceasing physical activity after feeling ankle pain can lessen the effect of the injury.