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 (connects muscle to bone); a sprain is a similar problem only occurring with a ligament (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) or chronic (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 09, 2020 11:19 AM
Learn more about
Sprains and Strains
Sprains and strains are two related but slightly different injuries. If the ligaments, or bands of tissue that connect the bones in a joint, get stretched or torn, this is a sprain. If a muscle or tendon, the bands of tissue that connects muscles to bones, get stretched or torn, this is known as a strain.
When one or more of the bones in the foot or the ankle breaks, this is known as an ankle or foot fracture. They can vary greatly in severity depending on what area of the foot or ankle is impacted.
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