Ankle sprain happens when joint turns too far. There are connective tissue bands called ligaments that hold bones together. Tendons are tough tissue that attaches muscles to bones. If sprain happens, ligaments are stretched too much. It causes swelling, pain and can make joint unstable. Many times, bruising develops, and person is not able to walk.
Sprains are diagnosed by obtaining proper history and doing physical exam. X-rays may be done to rule out fractures if medical provider suspects one. Ultrasound may be also used to evaluate ligaments. If X-rays are negative for injury and a person has severe symptoms or not improving, CAT scan or MRI may be ordered.
Treatment includes elevation, rest, compressive dressing, ice and using special boots (ankle walker) and crutches, if needed, to ambulate. Over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol is a brand name,) ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), or naproxen (Aleve) can be used unless there are contraindications for their use.