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What are the Symptoms of High Ankle Sprains? And how can they be Treated?

Are you recovering from a high ankle sprain? If so, you are not alone. Acute ankle sprains affect 1.7 million people worldwide, and high ankle sprains are one of the most common ankle injuries. They can be incredibly painful and have a long recovery period. Fortunately, there are ways you can speed up your recovery process and even prevent it in the future. 

In this blog, we’ll look at high ankle sprains—what they are, how to differentiate them from other ankle injuries, and how you can effectively treat them. If you're ready to learn more about this very common ankle injury, let's jump in!

What is a high ankle sprain?

A high ankle sprain is a type of injury to the ligaments that connect the two bones of the lower leg (the tibia and fibula). It occurs when the ligaments in the upper ankle are severely stretched or torn. High ankle sprains can be incredibly painful and significantly limit mobility, making them a major concern for athletes.

High ankle sprains, also known as syndesmosis sprains, differ from more common inversion or eversion sprains of the ankle, in which the ligaments on the side and front of the ankle are damaged. These types of sprains generally occur when the ankle twists or rolls too far over itself. High ankle sprains, on the other hand, occur when the two bones of the lower legthe tibia and the fibulaare pulled apart, stretching or tearing the tissue that connects them.

How do I know if I have a high or low ankle sprain?

For many people, knowing whether they have a high or low ankle sprain can be a confusing task. Some may think that a higher degree of pain means they have a more serious injury, while others may believe that a low ankle sprain is no big deal. 

To help you determine if you have a high or low ankle sprain, it’s important to understand the differences between these two types of injuries.

High ankle sprainLow ankle sprain
- Causes high levels of pain that can become excruciating.
- High ankle sprains occur when the ankle is bent backward beyond its normal range of motion.
- Has a lesser degree of pain but can become bothersome if left untreated.
- Low ankle sprains happen when the ankle is bent sideways or twisted too far

If you aren’t sure whether you have a high or low ankle sprain, it is best to see your doctor or healthcare provider for an evaluation. They can make a proper diagnosis and recommend the right treatment for your injury. With proper medical attention, your ankle sprain should heal quickly, and you can get back to your regular activities soon. Florida Foot & Ankle Associates provides the best quality care and support for your medical needs, including ankle injuries. 

What are the symptoms of a high ankle sprain? 

A high ankle sprain is a serious type of ankle injury that involves the ligaments connecting the lower leg and ankle bones. Signs and symptoms of a high ankle sprain include:

  1. Swelling of the joint
  2. Tenderness in the affected area
  3. Bruising or discoloration in the area
  4. Sharp or intense pain in the joint
  5. A popping sensation sounds when the ankle is twisted.
  6. Burning sensation in the area surrounding the joint
  7. Limited range of motion
  8. Inability to bear weight
  9. Numbness or tingling in the toes
  10. Sensitivity to cold, wet, or hot temperatures

What are the different types of high ankle sprains? 

There are three main types of high ankle sprains: catastrophic, syndesmotic, and medial. Read below to get a better understanding of each type: 

  • Catastrophic high ankle sprain

It is the most severe type of high ankle sprain as it involves a complete rupture of the ligaments, resulting in instability of the ankle joint. It requires prompt medical attention and is usually managed with immobilization, physical therapy, and sometimes, surgery.

  • Syndesmotic high ankle sprain

It is a stretch or partial tear of the ligaments located between the tibia and fibula, at the same level of the foot. Symptoms such as swelling and pain felt on the outside of the ankle are common. Treatment for this type of high ankle sprain usually consists of rest combined with physical therapy.

  • Medial High ankle sprain

It is a tear of the ligament located on the inner side of the ankle. It is usually caused by a blow to the outer side of the ankle and results in pain and instability of the ankle joint. Treatment may include immobilization, physical therapy, and in some cases, surgery to repair the ligament.

What are the common causes of high ankle sprains?

High ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries in sports and athletics. While it’s not as serious as a fracture, a sprained ankle can still be quite painful and take weeks to heal.

One of the most common causes of high ankle sprains is sharp changes in direction or repeated pivoting on an unstable surface. This could be due to uneven ground, a low-grip surface such as astroturf, or anything else that doesn’t provide solid support for your foot. To prevent this from happening, you should always wear shoes that provide good cushioning and support and avoid surfaces that don’t look like they provide a secure base.

Another common cause is an impact or collision with the ankle. This is especially common in contact sports such as football and rugby, where there could be a lot of pressure and stress applied to the ankle. To prevent this, make sure you always wear the proper protection and use the correct technique when tackling and running.

Finally, muscle or tendon imbalances can also be a cause of high ankle sprains. This is when one leg is working harder than the other, leading to excess tension on the more powerful ankle. To prevent this, do exercises that strengthen both sides and create a balance between your legs.

High ankle sprains are a common injury, but taking measures to prevent them is essential to staying healthy and in the game. Make sure you wear the correct protection, avoid unstable surfaces, and use the correct form when running and tackling. Additionally, doing balance exercises to create an even muscle structure can prevent imbalances and help keep your ankle safe.

How do I treat a high ankle sprain?

High ankle sprains are a common injury that can range from mild to severe. The good news is that high ankle sprains can be treated with a combination of rest, ice, compression, and elevation, along with physical therapy, to help you get back to normal as soon as possible.

  • Rest

In the first few days after the sprain, it's important to rest your ankle and avoid activities that may aggravate the injury, such as jogging, walking, or jumping. Immobilizing your ankle by wearing a brace or support can help reduce pain and swelling.

  • Ice

Applying an ice pack to the hurt ankle for 15-20 minutes, several times a day, can help bring down swelling and reduce pain. 

  • Compression

It's important to wear a snug elastic wrap or bandage around your ankle to provide support and reduce swelling. Make sure the wrap is not too tight, as this can further harm your ankle. 

  • Elevation

Elevate your ankle above the level of your heart in order to reduce swelling, help the ankle heal faster, and reduce pain.

  • Physical therapy

After the inflammation has gone down, physical therapy can help you strengthen your ankle to help you gain back your range of motion, decrease swelling, and improve circulation. Physical therapy exercises may include stretching, balancing, and working on your ankle's range of motion.

By following these tips, and following your doctor's or physical therapist's instructions, you can help reduce your ankle's pain and swelling and get back to your normal activities as soon as possible. 

Get the best treatment for high ankle sprains at Florida Foot & Ankle!

If you are searching online for the “best foot and ankle surgery near me”, Florida Foot and Ankle Associates is your perfect choice! 

Florida Foot and Ankle Associates proudly offers specialized treatments to help heal your high ankle sprain. We understand how important it is to treat your high ankle sprain in a timely and effective manner so that you can be sure you are on the road to recovery as soon as possible. 

We are committed to delivering the highest level of care and expertise, so you can trust that you are in good hands with us at Florida Foot and Ankle Associates.

Our specialized team of podiatrists in Miami will assess your injury, listen to your concerns, and then develop a personalized treatment plan to help treat and heal your high ankle sprain. Our comprehensive approach to treating your high ankle sprain involves focusing on your individual lifestyle, overall health, and well-being, as well as preventive care and post-care instructions. 

We strive to provide the best quality of care and support possible to ensure your success as you work through the recovery process. We also offer care and treatments for other cases, including: 

We have locations throughout South Florida, our specialists serving the Greater Miami Area, including Miami-Dade (Miami, Kendall, Miami Beach, Hialeah, Coral Gables), Broward County (Hollywood, Pembroke Pines), and Palm Beach County (Boca Raton).

To find out more about our specialized treatments for high ankle sprains, get in touch with us now and treat your injury with the care and expertise it deserves.


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.
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Doral, FL 33122
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