Ankle Sprain symptoms and treatment

Instabilité de cheville

What is it?

Ankle sprain is the most common orthopaedic injury and the primary reason for consulting a specialist. In most cases the ankle suffers a twisting injury that mainly affects the lateral ligaments, which are responsible for the stability of the joint. These three ligaments ensure joint congruence and prevent any abnormal movement of the bones in relation to each other.

When sprains are correctly treated, 90% heal spontaneously in 2-3 months If pain persists beyond this time, such sprains are called complex sprains. This kind of sprain then requires additional tests or special management.


The most common causes or persistent pain are:

Persistent pain is a reason for consulting a specialist.

Ligaments externes de la cheville
  • Fig. 1

    Lateral ligaments of the ankle, affected during a sprain

Sprains are classified according to their severity and type of ligament injury:

Grade I: mild strain. Simple elongation of ligaments.

Grade II: moderate strain. Partial tear of ligaments.

Grade III: severe strain. Complete tear of ligaments.



Clinical presentation

A sprain is a painful traumatic event. The ankle is generally swollen, and painful when moving or palpated. Bruising may appear when the ligament is torn (grade II/III sprains). It is sometimes impossible to put weight on the foot in the first days.

Correctly treated, the pain caused by the sprain will gradually improve over the course of a few weeks or months.

When should you consult a specialist?

It is advisable to consult an A&E department or doctor when suffering a sprain. An x-ray will be carried out to make sure no other injury is present such as a fracture of the ankle or foot.
An orthopaedic specialist or sports doctor must be consulted in case of persistent pain after 2-3 months or when the injury is suffered by elite athletes.

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