An ankle sprain is a common walking and sporting injury. It can be a very painful experience and can significantly affect a patients lifestyle. It occurs due to the ankle twisting and causing damage to the soft tissues and ligaments. A ligament consists of several strands of tissue all compacted together to form a strong structure, similar to a rope.
An ankle sprain may result in a partial or complete tear of a ligament, which stabilizes the ankle joint. Once the ligament is torn, it becomes weak which in turn affects ankle stability.
The degree in which the ankle stability is affected is dependent upon the level of the tear. When an ankle sprain occurs, the usual scenario involves the athlete "rolling" his or her ankle while landing from a jump or running, followed by a sharp pain on the outside of the ankle. An audible "pop" or "snap" may accompany the injury, which sometimes signals ligamentous rupture. If the athlete can walk on the injured ankle, the likelihood of a serious injury is less, but athletic participation should be discontinued. Shoes should be kept on until examination and treatment. Symptoms include a swollen, painful ankle with possible bruising due to ruptured blood vessels.
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