An ankle sprain is commonly the result of an inversion injury which results in partial or complete tearing of the lateral ankle ligaments (outside of the ankle). Simple sprains involve the anterior talo-fibular ligament (ATFL) and calcaneofibular ligament (CFL). More severe sprains can result in injury to the syndesmotic ligaments, known as a "high-ankle sprain", or even ligaments on the inside of the ankle (medial or deltoid ligament sprain). These more severe sprains can take much longer to completely recover. Most patients with a simple ankle sprain recover within 6-8 weeks.
Treatment is usually dependent on the severity of the sprain. RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) is recommended in most instances in the acute setting. Some patients who have difficulty weight bearing may benefit from a short period in a brace or cam-boot. Physical therapy is the mainstay of treatment. Surgery for an acute ankle sprain is rarely required. Even in severe sprains, the ligaments will heal without surgery. Surgery is required in those patients who have chronic instability or recurrent sprains. Some high ankle sprains or syndesmosis injuries also occasionally require surgery to assess and treat them. Associated injuries such as fractures or cartilage injuries (osteochondral fractures) may require surgery.