Ligaments are strong, fibrous tissues that connect bones to other bones. The ligaments of the ankle hold the ankle bones in position and stabilize the joint. Most sprained ankles occur in the lateral ligaments on the outside of the ankle. Sprains can range from tiny tears to complete tears through the tissue. If there is a complete tear of the ligaments, the ankle may become unstable. Symptoms include swelling, bruising, tenderness, instability, and hearing or feeling a popping sound at the time of injury.