Most common ankle injury is an ankle sprain. A “sprain” indicates that ligaments that hold a joint together are torn in part or completely. Ankle sprains usually occurs as part of a twisting injury in which the foot collapses inward resulting tearing of the lateral ankle ligaments.This results in pain, swelling and bruising on the outer (lateral) aspect of the ankle.Most sprains have a limited amount of pain and disability. But when the pain persists for more than 4-6 weeks and/or there is a sense of instability (like your are going to twist it again) that is a good time to seek medical attention. Sometimes it is just that you need a little physical therapy to strengthen the ankle. But on occasion, there is a more serious problem in need of diagnosis and treatment.

Initial treatment  first aid;

R.I.C.E: As taught in first aid classes everywhere 

Rest/ Ice/Compression/ Elevation

This advice decreases the initial pain and helps prevent swelling that may take months to go away even after the ligaments have healed.

DO I need an X-ray?:

This is the big question after an injury : Is it just a sprain or do I have  fractured ankle or another bone in the foot? When in doubt go to the emergency room or call your orthopedist and get examined and see if an x-rayed if appropriate. In Canada, where they have national health care, they have tried to limit X-rays to those cases where the probability of a fracture is high developing the Ottawa rules”. Essentially if you were inable to put weight on your ankle immediately after the injury or pain in any of the  areas indicated certain areas (click on bold above for these locations)

Ottawa rules:

Warning signs to see a doctor:


-Inability to put weight on the foot/ankle for more than a day

-Deformity of ankle

-Pain on both sides of ankle 

-Pain pesrsisting more than 4-6 weeks

-sensation of instability

-locking of the ankle "It gets stuck?!?"

-inability to walk on ball of foot with out a sense of pain/instability after 6      weeks

-nerve like pains :burning,tingling ,numbness