Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments that support the ankle stretch or tear and can range in severity from mild to severe depending on how much damage and tearing there is to the ligaments. Most ankle sprains are minor injuries that can heal on their own with rest and home treatments. The length of time that an athlete may be out of action can vary from a few days to 4-6 weeks. A majority of ankle sprains occur when the foot turns inward damaging the supporting ligaments on the outside of the ankle (or what many people think of as rolling the ankle). Everyone that sustains an ankle sprain would benefit from instruction in an exercise program to ensure optimal recovery occurs and to decrease the likelihood that you will injure it again. When there is injury to the ligaments that support the bones, nerves that help with balance that are within ligaments are also affected which increases the likelihood that you may sustain future ankle sprains. The best way to minimize your ankle sprain from becoming a chronic issue is to perform exercises that help to strengthen the muscles around the ankle and improve your balance on the injured leg. Repeated ankle sprains can lead to long term problems, including chronic ankle pain, arthritis, and ongoing instability.
A high ankle sprain is a more severe form of injury and occurs when the ligaments and strong connective tissue, called the syndesmosis, between the two lower leg bones are torn and injured during a twisting movement. The recovery from a high ankle sprain is typically much longer than a lateral ankle sprain.