Ankle Sprains

Watch the video above to learn about Ankle Sprains, and how I approach treating this with my patients. There's also more information below. As always, when you're ready, fill out the form on this page to request a consultation.

Dr. Stewart told me everything would return to normal and he was right. I am completely back to normal and I can do everything I use to be able to do. —Danielle
An ankle sprain is defined as some level of disruption of one or more of the ankle ligaments. With a low-grade ankle sprain the ligament is stretched, with a moderate ankle sprain there is a partial ligament tear, and with a severe ankle sprain there is a complete ligament tear.


  • Pain and tenderness over the sprained ligament
  • Swelling
  • Bruising (ecchymosis)
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Difficulty walking or placing the foot on the ground
  • Gross instability or joint dislocation in a severe sprain


Diagnosis is made by a comprehensive foot and ankle exam by Dr. Stewart along with x-rays of the ankle. Imaging studies such as ultrasound and MRI are sometimes required to determine the extent of ligament injury.


The severity of the ankle sprain dictates the recovery time. Low-grade sprains can generally improve in 3-6 weeks. Moderate sprains generally take 6-8 weeks to improve, while severe sprains can take 3-6 months to improve. Early treatment of ankle sprains is important to reduce the incidence of chronic pain, stiffness, and swelling and to prevent chronic ankle instability and re-injury. Conservative treatments includes immobilization, icing, compression therapy, physical therapy, and therapeutic laser.

Although we can never offer a 100% guarantee, the majority of Dr. Stewart’s patients improve with conservative (non-surgical care).

I summited Mt. Meru in Tanzania. It’s 14,976 feet high and it entailed a four day trek. I’m eternally grateful to Dr. Stewart. –Brigitte

Conservative treatment for Ankle Sprains includes:

Depending on the severity of the injury, immobilization with a cast and crutches, a walking boot, a hinged ankle foot orthosis, or a multi-ligamentous lace-up ankle brace

  1. Rest
  2. Avoidance of flip-flops, flats, and barefoot walking
  3. Ice and elevation
  4. Therapeutic laser
  5. Early physical therapy to prevent joint stiffness
  6. Medications including anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), Tylenol, oral steroids, and in some cases narcotic pain medication
  7. Compression therapy generally with prescription compression stockings

In certain circumstances, ankle sprains may require immediate surgical intervention. This is most common in high performance athletes or in patients with gross ankle instability following a complete ligament tear. Patients that fail conservative treatment and have chronic pain or ankle instability may require surgery. If surgery is indicated, Dr. Stewart will determine the best procedure for you.

Surgical treatment for Ankle Sprains includes:

  1. Primary repair of the torn ligament
  2. Repair of the torn ligament with use of an allograft
  3. Repair of the torn ligament with use of your own tendon (autograft)