A sprain is the damage or tearing of a ligament, which is the fibrous tissue that joins bone to bone often giving stability. In the ankle there are 3 ligaments on the outside (lateral) part of ankle.
Ankle sprains are one of the most commonly seen sporting injuries but can happen to anybody at any time. They usually involve some degree of rapid and uncontrolled inversion of the ankle joint, where there is inward twisting or ‘rolling’ of the ankle.
The degree of injury depends on the degree of force but can range from a Grade 1 (small) tear of one ligament, to a grade 3 (complete rupture) of several ligaments, and in some cases even fracture. Initial assessment is important to rule out a fracture and determine the best possible treatment and healing times / time needed off sport. Treatment then will aim to reduce pain and swelling, restoring full range of movement, improve strength & balance, and a full return to previous activities (sport specific if necessary). There will usually be a period where you will have to strap the ankle to provide extra stability while the ankle recovers, and you will be taught how to do this yourself.
If these injuries are not rehabilitated properly, it can lead to chronic ankle instability where the joint is lax, and you become more prone to recurrent sprains.