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An ankle sprain is a common injury and usually results when the ankle is twisted, or inverted. The term sprain signifies injury to the soft tissues, usually the ligaments, of the ankle. On the lateral side of the ankle, there are three ligaments that make up the lateral ligament complex. These include the anterior talofibular ligament (ATF), the calcaneo–fibular ligament (CF) and the posterior talofibular ligament (PTF). The very common inversion injury to the ankle usually injures the anterior talofibular ligament and the calcaneo–fibular ligament. The ATF ligament keeps the ankle from sliding forward and the CF ligament keeps the ankle from rolling over on its side.

Causes of Ankle Sprain
A ligament is made up of multiple strands of tissue–similar to a nylon rope. A sprain results in tearing of the ligaments. The tear can be a complete tear of all the strands of the ligament or a partial tear, where a portion of the strands of the ligament are torn. The ligament is weakened by the injury which depends on the degree of the tear. The lateral ligaments are by far the most commonly injured ligaments in a typical inversion injury of the ankle. An inversion injury simply means that the ankle tilts over to the inside (towards the other foot), and the pressure of all your body weight is forced onto the outside edge of the foot. This causes the ligaments on the outside of the ankle to stretch and possibly tear.

Symptoms of Ankle Sprain
Initially the ankle is swollen, becomes painful, and may turn eccyhmotic (bruised). The bruising, and the initial swelling, is due to ruptured blood vessels from the tearing of the soft tissues. Most of the initial swelling is actually bleeding into the surrounding tissues. This initial swelling due to bleeding then increases due to edema fluid leaking into the tissues as well over the next 24 hours.

Diagnosis of Ankle Sprain
The diagnosis of an ankle sprain is usually made by examination of the ankle and x–rays to make sure that there is no fracture of the ankle. If there is a complete rupture of the ligaments suspected, your doctor may order stress x–rays as well. These x–rays are taken while someone twists or stresses the ligaments.

Treatment of Ankle Sprain Treatment may vary depending on how bad your ankle sprain is. In each case, the first line of treatment is to calm the inflammation and halt the swelling. The RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) principle can help address each of these needs.