What Is an Ankle Sprain?
An ankle sprain is a tear in the ligaments of the ankle. These ligaments hold part of the ankle in place or connect it to other bones in the leg and foot.
It's a very common, yet painful injury.
When you sprain your ankle:
- Swelling and pain can occur almost right away.
- Moving the ankle can be hard.
- Putting weight on the leg can hurt.
Types of ankle sprains
There are two types of ankle sprains:
- Eversion ankle sprains — occurs when the ankle rolls outward and tears the deltoid ligaments.
- Inversion ankle sprains — occurs when you twist your foot upward and the ankle rolls inward.
The inversion ankle sprain is the more common of the two types of injuries.
The ankle area has three sections — lateral, medial, and high. All three areas of the ankle are prone to painful sprains.
- Lateral ankle sprains — the most common type — injure the ligaments that prevent your foot from rolling inward toward the arch.
- Medial ankle sprains cause damage to the set of ligaments that keep your foot from rolling outward.
- High ankle sprains — sometimes called "tib/fib" sprains — injure the ligaments that hold your two leg bones together on top of the ankle. A forceful, upward movement of the foot and ankle causes this type of ankle sprain.
Ankle sprain causes and risk factors
Ankle sprains can occur for many reasons.
Some common causes of ankle sprains include:
- Wearing the wrong type of shoes for your sport. This puts you at risk of twisting your ankle or even falling.
- Placing unusual stress to the ligament. This could be from walking or running on an uneven surface, jamming your foot, or twisting your ankle in an odd way.
High impact sports — where you run, jump, climb, or kick — can put you at risk for an ankle sprain.
Ankle sprain complications
Without proper diagnosis, treatment, and care, an ankle sprain can impede your ability to walk and do other routine activities.
A sprained ankle might make you walk unevenly. This causes you to put more weight on the healthy ankle and increases your risk of injuring that ankle.
Learn more about ankle sprains
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