A sprain is the excessive stretching or tearing of ligaments, the structure that connects two bones together, that happens due to physical trauma or accidents. The most common location for this type of injury is in the ankle joint that happens when people stumble and roll their ankles.

Last Updated: February 24, 2024

Sprains are usually caused by accidents that involve the joints of the body. Severely twisting or stretching a joint can cause the ligaments to tear and inflict pain and swelling at the affected area. Sprains often occur due to a fall, a bad landing from a jump, or when the ankle rolls when running. 


There are also risk factors that can increase the risk for this injury such as:

  • Environmental conditions (slippery or uneven surfaces)
  • Fatigue (tired muscles can’t provide good support to joints)
  • Poor equipment (poor sporting equipment may increase the risk of sprains)

The symptoms of a sprain will vary depending on the severity of the injury and these include:

  • Pain
  • Weakness
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Inability to move the affected joint


At the time of injury, one can also hear or feel a “pop” in the affected joint as the ligaments tear.

The R.I.C.E. guideline was created to facilitate self-care of mild sprain cases.

  • Rest the affected joint by not using or moving it
  • Ice the sprain to lessen the swelling. Use a cloth to cover the ice and do not apply it to the area for more than 20 minutes
  • Compression can help keep down the swelling and immobilize the joint
  • Elevate the sprained joint

Swelling usually goes down in a few days and most sprains will feel better after two weeks. Some severe cases, however, may need more time to heal. In some cases, seeing a physical therapist for rehabilitation may help patients regain their strength and range of motion.

Regular stretching before playing your sport or doing an exercise can help reduce the risk of sprains. Exercising can also help strengthen the muscle around the joint which would provide the area with its own natural protection against trauma that would otherwise cause sprains. Furthermore, investing in good and comfortable footwear can help prevent sprains from happening.

Last Updated: February 24, 2024