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Why You Shouldn’t Ignore a Sprained Ankle

If you’ve ever experienced the sharp pain and crippling discomfort of a sprained ankle, you’re not alone. This condition is one of the most common injuries in the world, affecting millions of people of all ages, and the causes are surprisingly varied. In 2010, the rate of ankle sprains seen in US emergency departments was 3.29 per 1,000 people per year.

In this blog, we'll explain why you should never ignore a sprained ankle, and how to best diagnose and treat it. With the right guidance and medical care, a sprained ankle can heal, so don't delay in seeking out the best treatment for your injury.

What is a sprained ankle?

A sprained ankle is an injury to the ligaments in the ankle joint, typically caused when the ankle is twisted or turned in an unnatural way. It is a very common injury, especially among athletes. With proper treatment and a gradual return to physical activity, a sprained ankle can usually be healed within several days or weeks.

What are the symptoms and signs of a sprained ankle?

The symptoms and signs of a sprained ankle depend on the severity of the injury. The common symptoms include: 


Pain is one of the most common symptoms and can vary in intensity depending on how severe the sprain is. Pain may range from mild to severe and can be accompanied by swelling, bruising, and joint instability.


Swelling is a common symptom of a sprained ankle. Without proper treatment, swelling can cause lasting damage, so it's important to seek medical attention.


Bruising—or contusions—occur when the thin layers of tissue underneath the skin are damaged and the small blood vessels leak blood. The damaged blood vessels cause the skin to discolor with red, blue, or purple spots. Bruising can quickly become large and worsen if not treated properly.

Limited mobility

Limited mobility is a common symptom of a sprained ankle. It occurs when the ligaments of the ankle are damaged, affecting its range of motion. Typical signs of limited mobility include pain, swelling, bruising, tenderness, and reduced strength.


After an ankle sprain, the damaged ligaments don't always heal perfectly, leaving the ankle less stable and more prone to further injury. To prevent further sprains, ankle stabilizing exercises and bracing can be useful preventative measures.

Popping or snapping sensation

If you feel a snapping, popping, or ripping sensation when you sprain your ankle, it could be caused by a tear of the ligaments or taken as a sign of serious sprains. 


When you touch the injured area, you may feel extreme tenderness or pain in the area of the sprain.

How a sprained ankle can worsen if left untreated?

If you've suffered a sprained ankle, leaving it untreated can have serious long-term consequences. Not only will it leave you in extreme agony and immobility, but an untreated sprained ankle can worsen and cause further injuries.

When an ankle is sprained, the ligaments in the ankle joint stretch and tear, causing extreme pain and swelling. If left untreated, the ligaments can become permanently weakened, creating an unstable joint and preventing the joint from functioning properly. This weakens the entire lower leg, making it difficult to walk properly.

With inadequate treatment, the swollen tissues around the joint can also turn into scar tissue and cause chronic pain. This can lead to a person having to modify their walking technique, making them more prone to future injuries. In some cases, a person with an untreated sprained ankle can develop severe osteoarthritis over time. The combination of a loose joint and inflammation can cause severe joint damage. 

A sprained ankle should be taken seriously. If you first receive proper care, such as immobilizing the joint, applying ice, and taking anti-inflammatory medication, your recovery will be quicker and your joint will be more stable. 

By seeking medical care immediately and following any prescribed rehabilitation program, you significantly reduce your chances of developing any long-term consequences. In the end, it’s important to recognize the risks of leaving a sprained ankle untreated and to seek proper medical care as soon as possible.

What can you do to help heal a sprained ankle?

No one likes the pain and discomfort of a sprained ankle. Taking the necessary steps to help heal your sprained ankle can help ease the pain and discomfort and get you back to your high-energy lifestyle in no time. 

Here are some tips on what you can do to help heal a sprained ankle:

  1. Rest and elevate: Resting your sprained ankle and keeping it elevated with a pillow or cushion when you sit or lie down can help reduce the swelling and assist in the healing process. 
  2. Reduce swelling: Apply an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables to the sprained ankle to help reduce swelling. Do this for 20 minutes several times a day.
  3. Compression: Wrap a bandage or other material around the ankle to help reduce swelling. Make sure to keep it tight but still adjustable to ensure that your circulation is not disrupted. 
  4. Take pressure off of the area: Wear a lighter-weight shoe that doesn’t hit the height of standard footwear (e.g., no heels). If possible, keep the injured foot in a brace or special shoe designed to stabilize and protect it.
  5. Pain relief: Take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help reduce inflammation and pain. 
  6. Stretching: Once the swelling has reduced, slowly start to stretch the injured area. This will help restore the flexibility and strength of the ankle joint.

How can you reduce your risk of spraining your ankle?

Spraining an ankle can be extremely painful and may take weeks to heal. Luckily, there are a few simple tips to help reduce your risk of spraining an ankle.

  1. Wear well-fitting and supportive shoes. Make sure your shoes are the correct size and securely fit your foot. Running shoes should provide extra ankle support and be replaced regularly.
  2. Strengthen your ankles. Exercises such as ankle circles, heel raises, wall push-ups, and single-leg stances can help build the muscles and tendons that surround your ankle and reduce the risk of an ankle sprain.
  3. Warm up and stretch. Before any physical activity, warm up your body by doing some light cardio and dynamic stretching. Stretching before exercise can help reduce the risk of an ankle injury. 
  4. Wear braces or splints. Braces and splints provide extra stability to your ankles and can help protect them from sprains.

Take action now for a rapid, successful recovery!

Are you living in or near Florida and suffering from a sprained ankle? Get the treatment you need fast and effectively at your local Florida Foot and Ankle clinic! From diagnostic services to surgical and non-surgical treatments, our team of podiatrists in Miami can get you back on your feet in no time. 

We have locations throughout South Florida, with our specialists serving the Greater Miami Area, including: 

  • Miami-Dade (Miami, Kendall, Miami Beach, Hialeah, Coral Gables)
  • Broward County (Hollywood, Pembroke Pines)
  • Palm Beach County (Boca Raton)

Find a location closest to you! 

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The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

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