The ankle has many ligaments holding it in a position suitable for walking, running and lying down. When one or more of these ligaments is torn or overly stretched, this is called an ankle sprain. The injury to the muscle causes pain, swelling, sometimes bruising, and alters the way someone walks. The symptoms vary depending on how many ligaments are torn and how severe the tears are. Cause Ankle sprains are caused by a sudden turn of direction while walking or running, or from an outside force that knocks the ankle out of its normal position. For example, a runner who steps into a hole that was thought to be a shallow puddle will be enough to cause an ankle sprain. Another example is a football player running with the football to the goal line who is tackled and receives a blow to his ankle. Each successive ankle sprain makes the ankle more and more unstable and prone to developing more ankle sprains. Treatment and Prevention All ankle sprains should be treated medically to determine if there has been a fracture of any of the bones of the feet. Some fractures may cause internal bleeding and other complications, and may need further medical intervention. Inflammation is the enemy of a healing ankle sprain, so ice is usually the first phase of treatment. In ice treatment, an ice pack is placed on top of 4 to 6 towel layers laid on top of the ankle. The ice is left on the ankle for 10 -15 minutes. This can then be followed by a hot pack on top of 4 to 6 towel layers for another 10-15 minutes. Since walking on an injured ankle with an ankle sprain worsens it, rest from weight bearing is recommended for up to 6 weeks. Sprained ankles should be elevated to keep excess blood from collecting at the injured ligament area. However, restoring ankle movement must happen as soon as possible, and this may be accomplished with physical therapy. Consider a soft cushioned heel and arch support or cushioned insole while your ankle is healing. An ACE bandage is used to wrap an ankle that has been sprained. This will serve two functions – to control swelling and remind you that you have an injury that needs time to properly heal. In cases where there are multiple ligaments torn along with fractured bones, surgery is necessary to start the repair. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs are often prescribed to reduce inflammation.