Ankle injuries

A clumsy or badly judged step can mean that ligaments, tendons and muscles get overstretched or torn.

Overview

A clumsy or badly judged step can mean that ligaments, tendons and muscles get overstretched or torn. Severe pain immediately after the accident is typical, and a sharp “crack” can often be heard or felt. Further injuries can be prevented by stopping the triggering activity immediately and following up with RICE treatment.

Symptoms

Main symptoms

  • Immediate pain
  • The foot can no longer bear any strain

Other symptoms

  • Overheating of the ankle
  • Swelling and a feeling of tightness
  • Bruising (haematoma)
  • Audible or perceptible “crack”

Causes and treatment

Causes

The lateral ligaments of the ankle are injured most frequently. These ligaments stabilise the ankle joint on the inside and outside. Injury is most commonly caused by twisting the ankle sideways.

  • Minor injuries: Sprain, the ligaments are overstretched but not damaged
  • Serious injuries: The ligaments are damaged and torn

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Careful examination of the ankle (incl. functional testing)
  • Ultrasound (sonography)
  • X-ray
  • CT scan (computed tomography)
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
Possible therapies
  • Painkillers
  • Immobilisation
  • Physiotherapy
  • Operation (e.g. sewing the torn ligament together)

What can I do myself?

For minor sports injuries, apply the RICE guidelines:

  • Rest: immediately stop the sporting activity
  • Ice: cool the ankle by applying ice or a cool pack (be careful not to apply directly to the skin)
  • Compression: using an elastic bandage
  • Elevation: keep the injured area raised

Don't use warming lotions or take baths or saunas, etc. for at least 24 hours.

When to see a doctor?

  • Very severe pain which doesn't improve
  • Extensive bruising (haematomas)
  • Difficulty in putting weight on the foot

Synonyms

Ankle injuries

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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