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Ankle Sprain

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Ankle Sprain


An ankle sprain is a partial or full tear of the strong bands of tissue that connect the ankle bones.

Sprained Ankle.

Nucleus factsheet imagehttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=73687368si55551429.jpgsi55551429.jpgNULLjpgsi55551429.jpgNULL\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si55551429.jpgNULL17NULL2008-11-07293390Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


Ankle sprains may be caused by:

  • Falling
  • Sudden twisting of the ankle, such as from:
    • Stepping on an uneven surface or into a hole
    • Taking an awkward step when running, jumping, or stepping up or down
    • Rolling onto the ankle when playing sports or exercising

Risk Factors

Ankle sprains are more common in teenagers, young adults, and people who are active in sports. Some sports that may raise the risk are basketball, football, and ice hockey.

Other things that may raise the risk of an ankle sprain are:

  • A prior ankle sprain
  • Limited range of motion in the ankle
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Poor muscle strength


Ankle sprains can result in:

  • Pain, swelling, and bruising around the ankle
  • Ankle weakness
  • Problems putting weight on the ankle, such as when walking or standing


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. Questions will also be asked about how the injury happened. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the ankle. This is enough to make the diagnosis.

Pictures may be taken to make sure the ankle is not broken. This can be done with:



The risk of an ankle sprain may be lowered by:

  • Using the right techniques when playing sports
  • Stretching and strengthening the ligaments that support the ankle




  • Ankle sprain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/ankle-sprain.
  • Sports injuries. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/sports-injuries.
  • Sprained ankle. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/sprained-ankle.
  • Vuurberg G, Hoorntje A, et al. Diagnosis, treatment and prevention of ankle sprains: update of an evidence-based clinical guideline. Br J Sports Med. 2018 Aug;52(15):956.


  • Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT, OCS
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.