A sprained ankle is one of the most common ankle injuries. With a typical ankle sprain, your ankle rolls inward or outward and pulls the tendons and ligaments below the ankle joint. A high ankle sprain happens above the joint, usually near the bottom of the tibia and fibula, or leg bones.
Many people treat sprained ankles at home. Many ankle sprains can be treated at home if treated properly. A doctor should examine severe sprains to ensure there isn’t more damage than expected, such as a torn ligament or fractured bone.
A common sprain involves a set of ligaments and tendons below the ankle joint. Usually, with this type of sprain, the foot rolls inward or outward and pulls the ligaments and tendons. The result is immediate pain, followed by swelling, bruising, and often the inability to put weight on the ankle.
Treatment of an ankle sprain involves the acronym RICE, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Patients can manage pain with over-the-counter pain medication, preferably ibuprofen or Aleve, to reduce swelling as well.
A doctor should examine more severe sprains to ensure there are no broken bones or that the ligaments or tendons aren’t torn. Doctors will perform a physical examination and get images from x-rays or a CT scan. Severe sprains may require the patient to use crutches or a walking boot while the ligaments heal. Common sprains that don’t involve surgery usually heal within six weeks.
High sprains occur above the ankle. Rather than rolling the ankle, high sprains usually occur while running and a quick twist, cut, or turn takes place, stretching the ligaments along the lower parts of the tibia and fibula.
High sprains may not display the swelling and bruising of common sprains, so it may be more difficult to tell that there’s damage. If proper care isn’t taken for the high ankle sprain, it can lead to more complications later. High ankle sprains result in pain up the leg rather than down into the foot. Any weight on the ankle is painful, and moving the foot in the same way as the initial injury can worsen the pain.
High ankle sprains can be treated the same way as common ankle sprains, with the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) method. Sprains that involve torn ligaments or fractures may require surgery. Most high ankle sprains will heal within six weeks, but those involving surgery and physical therapy could take up to six months to heal completely.