An ankle sprain occurs when you twist or roll your ankle out of its normal position. This causes supportive structures of the ankle (ligaments, tendons, muscles) to become overly stretched. Ankle sprains may even cause the main ligament (ATFL) on the outside of the foot to tear—either partially or completely.

Partial tears of the ATFL occur when it is stretched beyond its normal limits. There will be pain and swelling which worsens if weight is put on the foot. The skin may become discolored within 24 hours, and inflammation will also be present.

Complete tears of the ATFL typically produce more severe pain, swelling, and discoloration. A lesser stretch or tear of the calcaneal fibular ligament (CFL) may also occur with this level of injury.

Partial and complete ankle ligament tears may cause varying degrees of instability in the ankle. The ability to bear weight and movement of the ankle will also be affected.

It is important to seek professional care for an ankle sprain, as chronic ankle stability and additional sprains are often the result of improperly healed sprains. There are a variety of methods and therapies to treat an ankle sprain, depending on the severity of the sprain and whether other structures have been affected.

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