About Ankle Sprains

What is it and what are your treatment options?
Anchorage: (907) 562-2277
Wasilla: (907) 357-2267
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What is an Ankle Sprain?

Ankle sprains are common injuries. The tibia, fibula, and talus join to form the ankle joint. The bones are connected by ligaments. An ankle sprain occurs when the strong ligaments that support the ankle stretch beyond their limits and tear. Ankle sprains range from mild to severe, depending upon how much damage there is to the ligaments.

Common Causes:

  • Walking or exercising on an uneven surface
  • Falling down
  • Participating in sports that require cutting actions or rolling and twisting of the foot—such as trail running, basketball, tennis, football, and soccer

Most sprains are minor injuries that heal with home treatments like rest and applying ice. However, if your ankle is very swollen and painful to walk on — or if you are having trouble putting weight on your ankle at all, be sure to see Orthopedic Physicians Alaska (OPA) team foot and ankle specialist.

Symptoms of an Ankle Sprain may include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Limited range of motion

Without proper treatment and rehabilitation, a more severe sprain can weaken your ankle—making it more likely that you will injure it again. Repeated ankle sprains can lead to long-term problems, including chronic ankle pain, arthritis, and ongoing instability.

An Orthopedic Physicians Alaska (OPA) foot and ankle specialists will conduct the following to obtain the proper diagnosis to start immediate treatment for a quicker recovery:

  • Obtain a medical history to check for risk factors
  • Perform a physical examination to check for symptoms and test ankle strength and flexibility
  • Order and analyze x-rays (to rule out a fracture) or MRI

After the examination, the OPA  foot and ankle specialist will determine the grade of your sprain to help develop a treatment plan. Sprains are graded based on how much damage has occurred to the ligaments.

Grade 1 Sprain (Mild)

  • Slight stretching and microscopic tearing of the ligament fibers
  • Mild tenderness and swelling around the ankle

Grade 2 Sprain (Moderate)

  • Partial tearing of the ligament
  • Moderate tenderness and swelling around the ankle
  • If the OPA specialist moves the ankle in certain ways, there is an abnormal looseness of the ankle joint

Grade 3 Sprain (Severe)

  • A complete tear of the ligament
  • Significant tenderness and swelling around the ankle
  • If the OPA specialist pulls or pushes on the ankle joint in certain movements, substantial instability occurs

A treatment plan is prescribed after a formal diagnosis is made. OPA foot and ankle specialists treatment plans are tailored to your symptoms and lifestyle.

Common Treatments:

Nonsurgical treatment options are commonly used to treat ankle sprains. A treatment plan usually consists of multiple treatment options:

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)

Decrease inflammation and pain.

Physical Therapy

One of OPA’s onsite physical therapist prescribes and monitors strengthening and stretching exercises.

Activity Modification

Reduces or stops symptom causing activities


Splinting, or a cast immobilizes the ankle. Crutches take the weight off the ankle

Surgical treatment for ankle sprains is rare. Surgery is reserved for injuries that fail to respond to nonsurgical treatment, and for patients who experience persistent ankle instability after months of rehabilitation and nonsurgical treatment. After your surgical procedure, you will regain strength and their joint becomes strong and healthy. Patients who have their surgery performed by an OPA foot and ankle specialist fully recover.

At OPA, our Board-Certified and Fellowship Trained Foot and Ankle Specialists are experts in diagnosing and treating ankle sprains.

If you are experiencing symptoms of an ankle sprain, contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our foot and ankle specialist that are conveniently located in Anchorage, Wasilla and Eagle River, AK.

Schedule An Appointment

To receive an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan, please make an appointment with one of our Orthopedic Team Specialists at our offices conveniently located in Anchorage and Wasilla, AK.
Anchorage: (907) 562-2277
Wasilla: (907) 357-2267

OPA Foot & Ankle Team

(click a provider to view profile)

Deryk Anderson, DO

Orthopedic Specialist

Eugene Chang, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Tucker Drury, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Greg Schweiger, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Our Mission

To provide the finest orthopedic surgery and musculoskeletal care in North America, offering general and specialized adult care to all Alaskans and visitors.


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