Ankle Strain/Sprain

Also known as: sprained ankle, twisted ankle, ankle strain.

What is ankle strain/sprain?

An ankle strain is the pulling or tearing of a tendon, which connects muscle to bone. A sprain is a similar problem only occurring with a ligament, which connects bone to bone in the ankle.

What causes ankle strain/sprain?

Strains may be acute when a muscle is suddenly stretched, pulled or torn like from a slip on ice, running, jumping or lifting a heavy object from an awkward position. Chronic strains are from prolonged repetitive movement of a muscle during sport activities or work.

An ankle sprain is a common injury which frequently occurs when the ankle is severely inverted, or turned inward, usually during walking, hiking or exercising on uneven ground.

What are the symptoms of ankle strain/sprain?

Pain, swelling, bruising, tenderness, difficulty moving the ankle or difficulty walking are common symptoms of an ankle strain/sprain. Risk factors for both include poor conditioning, fatigue, poor warm up, slippery surfaces and poorly fitting footwear.

What are ankle strain/sprain care options?

Minor ankle strains/sprains require rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE) and over-the-counter pain relievers for treatment. An ankle brace may be helpful to support the ankle while it heals. It’s rare that an ankle strain/sprain will require surgery.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: September 14, 2021 03:42 PM

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