In order to first understand ankle sprains, it is essential to describe the anatomy of the ankle. There are two bones above the ankle joint; these are the tibia and fibula. Then there is one bone below the ankle joint, this is the talus. The strength of the ankle joint is derived from two elements. The first is the arrangement and placement of the bones and the second is the surrounding ligaments. It is possible for the joint to lose some of its stability over time when injuries occur to the bones that surround the joint. The same applies when the ligaments of the joint are injured as well. These ligament injuries are ankle sprains. There are three ligaments that surround the joint of the ankle and therefore mean that there are three different ligaments that could be injured to cause the ankle sprain. Because there are three ligaments means that the chances of a sprain to the ankle is somewhat greater than other parts of the body. Symptoms of an ankle sprain are typically swelling and localized pain, accompanied by a loss of function. Sometimes after there have been injuries to the ligaments they are never quite as strong as they were before the injuries. This means that the possibility of future ligament or ankle injuries is heightened.
The treatment following an ankle sprain is typically a four stage process. First the person is instructed to rest the area. This is to protect the place of the injury from further injury. The next stage is to ice the area. Icing the ankle is important because is helps to reduce the swelling as well as to prevent further swelling. The next stage is compression. Compression is also important to reduce the swelling of the area as well. Last but not least is elevation. Elevation is important to reduce swelling and prevent further swelling by keeping the injury as close to heart level as possible. This prevents any blood from rushing to the area. However, this is not all the necessary steps that should be taken to properly heal and protect the ankle from this sprain as well as future ankle sprains that could occur. Often after ankle sprains have occurred, especially for athletes, it is important to obtain physical therapy. Physical therapy is necessary to strengthen the ankle again without causing injury because it is guided by a professional. It is sometimes suggested as well, that if the ankle remains weak, that the person wear an ankle splint or brace when doing athletic activities in the future.