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 (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: 2/19/2018 1:23:56 PM