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Phone: 541-776-3338
Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, LLC
Call Us 541-776-3338
Toll Free 844-899-6826

What are the different degrees of ankle sprains?

An ankle sprain occurs as the tissues contained within the ankle are extended, stretched or twisted beyond their normal limits. When this occurs the ligaments that connect to the ankle bones can become severely damaged. However, the extent of damage within this fibrous tissue often dictates the treatment methods necessary for each case.

Levels of Damage:

  • First Degree – Sprains to the ankle at this level are quite mild. They involve tenderness of the ankle and some swelling; bruising is uncommon. Treatment typically involves resting, ice, and elevation of the joint. These injuries will heal in four to six weeks.
  • Second Degree – More moderate pain and swelling occurs with this degree of sprain. Bruising often occurs within days of the injury and the joint may be abnormally loose. Treatments utilize short term splinting, physical therapy and the R.I.C.E. method.
  • Third Degree – These are the most severe form of sprain and result in the complete tearing of the ligaments. The joint will be very unstable and weight-bearing is extremely difficult. To alleviate painful symptoms and allow for healing, bracing or casting is often necessary. Many patients will require physical therapy or even surgical reconstruction of the ankle.


The differences between these degrees of damage are often very subtle and require a professional diagnosis. To receive the best treatment possible, call our Medford office at 541.776.3338 or schedule an appointment online with Evan Merrill DPM.