The Most Common Ankle Injuries

Close up of a woman lower leg and feet. She is wearing running shoes and holding one ankle with both hands.

Many types of activities can cause ankle injuries. Simply stepping awkwardly as you walk down the stairs in your home can result in damage to an ankle. However, ankle injuries probably occur most frequently during sports.  

Some of the most common sports-related ankle injuries include fractures, tendonitis, Achilles tendon ruptures, and sprains. Of these, sprains may be the most common ankle injury.  

What Are the Different Types of Ankle Sprains?

“Sprained ankle” is an umbrella term that covers many related but different types of ankle injuries. Ankle sprains are classified into two general types: eversion ankle sprains, in which the ankle rolls outward, and inversion ankle sprains, in which the ankle rolls inward. Most “ankle rolls” are inversion sprains. 

Ankle sprains can occur in any of three areas of the ankle:

  • Medial ankle sprains damage the ligaments that keep your foot from rolling outward.
  • Lateral ankle sprains, which are the most common type, damage the ligaments that keep your foot from rolling inward.
  • High ankle sprains damage the ligaments at the top of your ankle that hold the two leg bones together.

When Should an Ankle Injury Be Evaluated?

If you’ve sprained your ankle for the first time, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. They can check to see if you have broken bones or other complications and tell you how to treat your injury. 

If you’ve had sprains before, you may be able to determine whether you need medical attention. In some instances, it may be fine simply to address the injury with rest, ice, elevation, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) taken as directed, etc.  


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How Are Ankle Sprains Treated?

With any type of ankle sprain, from lateral ankle sprains to high ankle sprains, it’s important to stay off the ankle and apply ice immediately to help minimize swelling. Ice can be used for 15-20 minutes at a time every 2-3 hours while you’re awake. Just be sure to use a cloth or other barrier between the ice and your skin so that you don’t damage your skin. 

It’s also helpful to wrap a sprained ankle with an elastic bandage to provide compression and keep it elevated above the level of your heart when you’re sitting or lying down, as that will help minimize swelling, as well.

Over-the-counter pain medication can be taken as directed, and crutches can be used to allow for mobility while keeping your weight off the ankle. 

In some instances, physical therapy for an ankle sprain may be needed. And, rarely, surgery may be required to repair damage if therapy and rehabilitative exercises aren’t enough to stabilize the ankle. 

See a Doctor for Severe Ankle Sprains and Other Injuries

If you can’t bear weight on an injured ankle, you should see a Baptist Health orthopedic or sports medicine provider. You can find one in our online provider directory. With evaluation and appropriate treatment, ankle injuries typically heal in weeks, and you can get back to the sports and activities you enjoy. 


Next Steps and Useful Resources

Find a Provider
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Ankle Injuries in Basketball: What to Expect and How to Treat At-Home

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