The doctor will perform a physical exam to see if a fracture or other serious injury has happened that requires immediate care.
- The examination should check that the nerves or arteries to the foot have not been injured and that the knee or the rest of the leg is not involved.
- The doctor will handle and move the foot and ankle to determine what bony areas are involved.
- The Achilles tendon will be checked for signs of rupture.
- X-rays are often needed to confirm if a fracture is present. In some cases of fracture, a CT scan may be needed.
Sprained ankles are the most frequent type of musculoskeletal injury seen by primary-care providers.
Ankle sprains are common sports injuries but also happen during everyday activities. An unnatural twisting motion of the ankle joint can happen when the foot is planted awkwardly, when the ground is uneven, or when an unusual amount of force is applied to the joint.
- The ankle joint is made up of three bones.
- The tibia: the major bone of the lower leg. It bears most of the body’s weight. Its bottom portion forms the medial malleolus, the inside bump of the ankle.
- The fibula: the smaller of the two bones in the lower leg. Its lower end forms the lateral malleolus, the outer bump of the ankle.
- The talus: the top bone of the foot.
- Tendons connect muscles to bones.
- Several muscles control motion at the ankle. Each has a tendon connecting it to one or more of the bones of the foot.Tendons can be stretched or torn when the joint is subjected to greater than normal stress. Chronic inflammation of a stretched or torn tendon is called tendinitis.
- Tendons also can be pulled off the bone, called an avulsion injury.
- Ligaments provide connection between bones. Sprains are injuries to the ligaments.
- The ankle has many bones that come together to form the joint, so it has many ligaments holding it together. Stress on these ligaments can cause them to stretch or tear.
- The most commonly injured ligament is the anterior talofibular ligament that connects the front part of the fibula to the talus bone on the front-outer part of the ankle joint.
Ankle Sprain Causes
Ligaments are injured when a greater than normal stretching force is applied to them. This happens most commonly when the foot is turned inward or inverted. This kind of injury can happen in the following ways:
- Awkwardly planting the foot when running, stepping up or down, or during simple tasks such as getting out of bed
- Stepping on a surface that is irregular, such as stepping in a hole
- Athletic events when one player steps on another player (A common example is a basketball player who goes up for a rebound and comes down on top of another player’s foot. This can cause the rebounder’s foot to roll inward.)
- Inversion injuries, in which the foot rolls inward, are more common than eversion injuries (also referred to as a high ankle sprain), in which the foot twists outward.