Ankle Sprain

A sprain is a stretch injury of the ligaments that support the ankle. The ligaments on the outside of the ankle are most commonly injured when the foot is turned inward on an awkward step.

  • About 25,000 people sprain their ankle every day.
  • It is common for athletes and people who wear ill-fitting shoes.
  • May be easy to treat at home, but a medical evaluation is the only way to reveal how bad the injury is.
  • May lead to early arthritis if not treated properly.

Who is at risk for an ankle sprain?

  • athletes in sports that require quick changes in direction for the legs, such as football, soccer, and basketball
  • people who walk or run on uneven surfaces
  • people who wear ill-fitting shoes
  • people who have had previous ankle sprains

What causes an ankle sprain?

Any movement that causes the ligaments of the ankle to stretch farther than they naturally can.

  • a fall that causes your ankle to twist
  • landing awkwardly on the foot while jumping or pivoting
  • walking, running, or playing on uneven surfaces

What are the symptoms of an ankle sprain?

The ankle is tender, swollen, and possibly discolored on the outside, below and just in front of the ankle bone. Typically, the bone is not as tender as the area above and in front of it. Some people hear a "popping" sound at the time of the injury.

How Boston Children's Hospital approaches ankle sprains

At Boston Children's, doctors are committed to making sure your child can return to all his or her normal activities, but only after they're sure your child's ankle is strong enough. The three goals of rehabilitation are:

  • restore motion and flexibility
  • restore strength
  • restore balance