Skip Navigation
Skip Main Content

From Twists to Triumph: Managing Ankle Sprains 

Pop star Britney Spears recently made headlines for attempting a leap in her Los Angeles hotel room and twisting her ankle. In her Instagram update, Britney said, “I might have to get surgery. Fingers crossed, hopefully not.”  

Dr. Rebecca Stack said, “Although I have not provided care to Ms. Spears, I have treated many patients for ankle issues.  A twisted ankle, also known as an ankle sprain, is a common injury incurred when the ligaments that support the ankle joint are stretched or torn.”

Ankle Sprain Causes

The most common causes of ankle sprains include:

  • Planting your foot awkwardly when running, stepping up or down, or during everyday activities. This can cause the ankle to roll inwards (inversion sprain) or outwards (eversion sprain).
  • Landing incorrectly after jumping or pivoting, putting excessive force on the ankle ligaments.
  • Walking, running, or exercising on uneven surfaces causing the ankle to roll unexpectedly.
  • Participation in sports that involve jumping, cutting actions, or sudden changes in direction, such as basketball, tennis, football, and soccer.
  • Wearing improper or ill-fitting shoes that don't provide enough ankle support during physical activities.
  • A previous ankle injury that has weakened the ligaments and makes you more susceptible to spraining the ankle again.
  • Stepping in a hole or on an uneven surface while walking or running.

Preventing Twisted Ankles

  • Wear proper footwear with good ankle support, especially during physical activities.
  • Strengthen your ankle muscles through exercises like calf raises and balance exercises.
  • Be cautious on uneven surfaces or when walking in low-light conditions.

Treating a Twisted Ankle

  • Apply the RICE method immediately: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce pain and swelling.

When to Get Medical Treatment

  • If the pain and swelling don't improve within a few days, or if you can't put any weight on the ankle, make an appointment with Northern Illinois Foot and Ankle Specialists.  If you live outside Illinois, please contact your doctor.
  • Severe sprains, or those with instability, may require immobilization with a cast or brace.
  • Physical therapy is often beneficial or necessary for full recovery and to reduce risk of recurrence.

Treatment and Recovery

  • Follow your health care professional’s recommendations for treatment and rehabilitation exercises.
  • Use crutches or a walking boot if recommended to avoid putting weight on the injured ankle.
  • Gradually increase weight-bearing and range of motion exercises as the ankle heals. Consider using an ankle brace or taping the ankle for support during physical activity once recovered.
  • Surgery may be needed depending on the severity of the sprain, other injuries that may have occurred, such as cartilage damage or fracture, or if symptoms do not improve with physical therapy. 

Proper treatment and rehabilitation are crucial for a full recovery and to prevent chronic ankle instability or re-injury. With patience and adherence to your health care provider's instructions, most twisted ankles can heal within a few weeks to a few months. We hope Britney’s ankle heals soon!