Ankle Sprain Treatment

About Ankle Sprain Treatment

Ankle Sprain Treatment

Types and Causes of Ankle Sprains

The ankle joint is a complex structure, including the tibia (shin bone), the fibula (the thin outer bone), and the talus below both of them. Ligaments and other tissues on the sides, front, and back of the ankle help these bones remain stable. The stability provided by these tissues permits running, stopping, pivoting, twisting, changing directions, balancing, etc.

Inversion Sprains

The most common injury causing an ankle sprain is an "inversion" – a term describing the inward twisting of the ankle and foot against a force (think of a baseball player missing a base or someone slipping off a curb). This typically results in what is called a lateral ankle sprain, damaging the lateral (outer) ligament of the ankle called the ATFL (anterior talofibular ligament). Many inversion ankle sprains involve injury to other structures, including fractures, cartilage damage, and tendon damage.

Syndesmosis Sprain

Ankle sprains can also include injuries to a group of very strong, complex ligaments in the ankle called the syndesmosis. These ligaments hold the entire ankle together. Injury of the syndesmosis is much more complex than a lateral inversion sprain.

High Ankle Sprain

The "high ankle sprain" - often mentioned during sporting events - typically refers to ligaments higher in location than the ATFL. Like a syndesmosis injury, high ankle sprains tend to be more complex in nature.

Additional Factors for Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains can be low or high velocity, depending on the cause of the injury. For example, a low velocity sprain might involve tripping over a child's toy and inverting the ankle. High velocity sprains include car accidents, falling from a height, getting tackled, or tripping over a base while running at full speed. Though there are always exceptions, there is a higher probability of major damage with a high velocity injury versus a low velocity sprain.

Evaluating Ankle Sprains

After determining the extent of the injury, Dr. Kovatis will discuss the treatment plan. Treatment plans can vary from patient to patient, depending on severity and location of the injury and the age and health of the patient.

Initial treatment for ankle sprains is typically conservative nonsurgical, though surgery may be considered if sprains do not improve with conservative care.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Initial treatment for ankle sprains may include:

  • Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation, (often known as "RICE")
  • Assistive devices like a brace to stabilize and protect the ankle
  • Crutches or a cane to keep weight off the ankle
  • Physical therapy to prevent joint stiffness
  • Follow-up visits to Dr. Kovatis to evaluate the progression of the injury

Patients are typically advised to gradually return to weight bearing to avoid reinjuring the ankle.

Surgical Treatment

Dr. Kovatis only recommends surgery if a patient continues to have ankle pain and/or instability despite nonsurgical treatment.

The surgical procedure needed for ankle sprains will vary based on the extent of the injury and if any other structures are injured, as well. The goal of surgery is to repair and stabilize the ligaments. During surgery, Dr. Kovatis will also examine the ankle to see if any other damage is present, and repair it at that time.

Ankle sprain surgery is typically done as an outpatient procedure, and often takes less than an hour to complete, though this depends on whether or not additional damage is present.

Ankle Sprain Treatment in Bergen County

Dr. Paul Kovatis is a fellowship trained orthopedic leg, foot, and ankle surgeon. While his offices are in Bergen County, patients from throughout the NY/NJ tri-state area come to Dr. Kovatis for his expertise. Dr. Kovatis treats a full range of injuries and conditions in the foot, ankle, and lower extremities, including ankle sprains. Though he has many years of experience working with pro-level athletes, Dr. Kovatis treats patients of all levels of activity. His goal is to help patients get back to their desired activity level whenever possible.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kovatis, please call our office at (201) 489-0022.

Contact Us


87 Summit Avenue
Hackensack, NJ 07601
Phone: (201) 489-0022


140 North State Route 17, Suite 255
Paramus, NJ 07652
Phone: (201) 261-5501


111 Dean Drive, Suite 1 North
Tenafly, NJ 07670
Phone: (201) 489-0022
Phone lines open 24/7 for on-call emergency care.