How Do You Sprain Your Ankle?


Quick Answer

According to WebMD, most ankle sprains occur when a person makes a rapid shifting motion while the foot is planted, causing the ankle to either roll outward or the foot to roll inward. This stretches and damages the ligaments on the outside of the ankle. An opposite reaction, in which the ankle rolls inward and the foot rolls outward, can cause a sprained ankle, but this situation is less common.

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Full Answer

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, nearly 25,000 people experience ankle sprains every day. Sprained ankles can occur at any age, whether the person is an athlete or not. There are three grades of sprains, ranging from mild to severe: A Grade 1 sprain involves slight stretching and minor damage to the ligament; a Grade 2 sprain happens when the ligament is partially torn, and typically causes an abnormal looseness of the ankle joint; a Grade 3 sprain is the most severe type of strain, and occurs when the ligament is completely torn.

WebMD outlines the RICE approach for treating ankle sprains: rest, ice, compression and elevation. Walking on the ankle must be avoided after a sprain, and crutches must be used as necessary for support. For the first one to three days after the sprain, an ice pack can be applied for 10 to 20 minutes every hour or two throughout the day. A compression wrap, such as an ACE bandage, helps reduce swelling and can be worn in addition to an ankle brace for added protection. Elevating the injured ankle above heart level for at least two to three hours a day further helps to reduce swelling and bruising.

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