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Expert Care for Sprained Ankle


Ligaments are strong, flexible bands of tissue that connect your bones to one another. Normally, they stretch with movement and return to their normal position. When a ligament in your ankle is stretched too far, a sprained ankle occurs. If your sprain is severe, it can tear the ligament.

Orthopedic specialists at Dignity Health can provide expert care for your sprained ankle and help you get back to doing the activities you love. To learn more about our treatment for a sprained ankle in the Bay Area, Find a Doctor online today.

Sprained Ankle Symptoms

Your symptoms will depend on the severity of the sprain. With mild sprains, most people experience pain and swelling. For sprains that cause the ligament to tear (partially or completely) your pain and swelling will be more severe. You may also experience:

  • An audible pop when the injury occurs
  • Bruising
  • Inability to bear weight, stand, or walk on your leg
  • Tenderness

Causes of an Ankle Sprain

A sprained ankle often results from: 

  • Planting your foot forcefully or unevenly
  • Playing sports
  • Twisting, rolling, or turning your ankle

Those who have had a sprained ankle in the past and people with ankles that naturally turn inward are more likely to have an ankle sprain.

Diagnosing a Sprained Ankle

If you’re having trouble walking on your ankle or have significant pain and swelling, the doctor will examine your ankle and may order imaging tests, including X-rays and MRI scans. Most ankle sprains do not require X-rays. However, in some cases they may be needed to rule out an ankle fracture. If your doctor suspects severe injury to your ligament, an MRI can be useful. However, if you have swelling, your doctor may wait to order this test.

Sprained Ankle Treatment at Dignity Health

Milder sprains may be treated with over-the-counter pain medicine and rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). These sprains usually heal within a few days.

For more severe sprains, your treatment may require an air splint or walking boot and the use of crutches while you heal. Severe sprains can take several weeks to heal. You may need physical therapy to help you regain your strength, flexibility, and mobility. Dignity Health offers physical therapy, rehabilitation, and sports medicine at our four Bay Area hospitals — Memorial HospitalSaint Francis and St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco, Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City, and Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz.

Ready to see one of our orthopedic specialists? Call 888.899.1113 for a doctor referral.

Dignity Health’s orthopedic care team is here to help you treat sprained ankle in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.