Ankle sprains are the most common injury in the human foot.
They occur usually as the heel turns in and under the leg.
When this occurs- one, or several of the three ligaments on the outside of the ankle- tear and the stability of the outside of the ankle joint can be diminished or lost.
As far as treatment, unfortunately, most Emergency Rooms just hand patients a pair of crutches and an Ace bandage.
The sprain always gets better with time, but the ligaments will heel 'stretched out' or attenuated, if they are not properly immobilized by a simple brace for about 3 weeks.
A brace like the Air Cast Ankle Stirrup, is a plastic velcro and plastic device made specifically to hold the torn ligaments tightly together for the time that it takes soft tissue injuries to heal- about 3 weeks.
Otherwise, the ligaments do heal in time, but because they heal in a 'stretched position'- they are more loose and there is a much higher risk for re-spraining.
This is the regular or low ankle sprain. 95% of all ankle sprains.
There is also the 'high ankle spain'. Very much more rare. The pain is several inches above the ankle and not directly on the outside of the ankle, as in the standard ankle sprain.
High ankle sprains should be immobilized but generally a regular or fiberglass short leg cast is necessary for 3-5 weeks.
Lessen to be learned- get ankle sprains treated quickly and not by an Emergency Room but by a foot and ankle specialist.
In the long run, you will have chances for a normal ankle again!
Dr Andrew Carver
Farragut Foot and Ankle
1040 17th St NW
Washington, DC 20036