About Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains are common injuries that occur among people of all ages. They occur when the strong ligaments that support the ankle stretch beyond their limits and tear. Without proper treatment and rehabilitation, a more severe sprain can weaken your ankle—making it more likely that you will injure it again. Repeated ankle sprains can lead to long-term problems, including chronic ankle pain, arthritis, and ongoing instability. Our orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine providers work with you on developing a specialized treatment plan with your goals in mind with a team dedicated to helping you every step of the way.

Types of Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains can be classified by which part of the ankle is affected.

Types of ankle sprain include:

  • Lateral ankle sprain: The most common form of ankle sprain, in which the outer ligaments of the ankle (the anterior talofibular and calcaneofibular ligaments) are damaged following an inward turn of the foot.
  • Medial ankle sprain: Tear of the ankle’s inner deltoid ligament after an outward turn of the foot.
  • High ankle sprain: Also known as syndesmotic injury, this less-common form of ankle sprain may include the anterior and/or posterior inferior tibiofibular ligament as well as the interosseous membrane. These ligaments are higher up (farther away from the foot) than those involved in more common forms of ankle sprain.

Symptoms of Ankle Sprain

Depending upon how much damage there is to the ligaments, your symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Symptoms of ankle sprain may include:

  • Bruising
  • Instability of the ankle—this may occur when there has been complete tearing of the ligament or a complete dislocation of the ankle joint
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness to touch

Risk Factors for Ankle Sprain

Certain people are at greater risk for ankle sprain.

Risk factors for ankle sprain may include:

  • Health history: People who have previously sprained their ankle are at a higher risk for re-injury.
  • Safety factors: Performing physical activity without proper warmup, on uneven surfaces, or with inadequate footwear can increase your risk of ankle sprain.

Treating Ankle Sprain at UT Health Austin

Upon evaluation of your ankle, including possible imaging, your sports medicine provider will discuss nonsurgical treatment options as an initial approach to healing the injury and improving function. These options often include activity modifications and rest, support braces, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, physical therapy and strengthening exercises. In more severe cases physical therapy and rehabilitation may also be included in treatment to help prevent stiffness and rebuild ankle strength to prevent chronic ankle problems. Your care team will walk you through the risks and benefits as well as what to expect throughout your recovery process.

Care Team Approach

At UT Health Austin, we take a multidisciplinary approach to your care. This means you will benefit from the expertise of multiple specialists across a variety of disciplines caring for you in one place to avoid having to schedule multiple appointments with providers at locations all over the city. The Sports and Injury Clinic care team includes orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine physicians, physiatrists, physical therapists, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, dietitians, social workers, and more, who work together to help you get back to the things in your life that matter most to you.

We also collaborate with our colleagues at The University of Texas at Austin and the Dell Medical School to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to provide you with comprehensive, whole-person orthopedic care to help you meet your goals. Treatment may include non-surgical interventions, such as lifestyle modifications, physical therapy, or medication and injections, or surgery may be the best course of action to help improve your pain and function. Advanced imaging and lab testing are also available on-site if needed.

Learn More About Your Care Team

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Musculoskeletal Institute

Health Transformation Building, 9th Floor
1601 Trinity Street, Bldg. A, Austin, Texas 78712
1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737)
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Sports and Injury Clinic

Health Transformation Building, 9th Floor
1601 Trinity Street, Bldg. A, Austin, Texas 78712
1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737)
Get Directions