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Ankle Injuries

Jessica Hegg considers when faced with physical injury, physical recovery is the top priority, but what else deserves equal attention?

One is understanding the nature of the injury, as well as the risk factors involved. A better grasp of risk factors helps you avoid these injuries in the first place, and a better understanding of the nature of the injury is essential for healing.

Another is the psychological and emotional impacts of physical injury, as the tragic story of Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley illustrates. In September 2010, the 23-year-old man shot himself shortly after a knee injury ended his season. He had earlier told friends that he was very distraught over the event but displayed no warning signs of severe depression.

While the fallout of that magnitude is quite rare, the psychological impact of physical injury is quite real. In many situations, depression may be as bad as physical discomfort. So, complete injury recovery must address this issue.

Common Ligament Injuries

Anterior Ankle Impingement is one of the most common ankle injuries because it can even strike people who are not runners or exercisers, and you can visit this URL to learn more about AAI.

The “anterior” element means that pain most oven presents in the anterior (front) part of the ankle, mostly in actions such as kicking a ball or standing on tippy-toes. For this reason, the condition is also known as footballer’s ankle or dancer’s ankle. Essentially, the excess pressure on soft tissues causes bone spurs which impinge on (pinch) the nerves.

The condition is usually associated either with acute trauma, like an ankle sprain, or chronic issues, such as overuse or improper footwear.

People who participate in jumping sports, like basketball, are at risk for inversion ankle sprains. These injuries also happen in other settings, because some people are naturally predisposed to these types of injuries, usually due to poor posture or a prior ankle sprain.

These sprains most often affect the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL), which connects the leg bone to the ankle bone, and the calcaneal fibular ligament (CFL), which connects the fibula to the calcaneus, and the posterior talofibular ligament (PTFL), which is at the back of the ankle near the Achilles tendon.

Routine X-Rays can usually diagnose the type and grade of injury. In some cases, such as those involving more pain than usual, an MRI or other tests may be necessary to rule out other more severe injuries.

In contrast, eversion ankle sprains happen when the ankle turns awkwardly inwards. Substantial swelling sets in almost immediately, effectively eliminating joint mobility. These injuries are quite rare, because the inside ankle ligaments are stronger than the ones on the outside, and also because the fibula does not allow these ligaments to move very much.

For this reason, eversion sprains often come with ankle fractures.

High ankle sprains affect the ligaments which connect the fibula to the tibia; these ligaments are located behind the shin. People who play impact sports, like football, often sustain syndesmotic ankle sprains, because they are rotational injuries. The foot plants but the rest of the body keeps moving. While these injury victims can still bear weight on their ankles, they experience intense pain while doing so.

To diagnose the injury, at least on a preliminary basis, a teammate or physical therapist can squeeze the area just below the knee to see if the pain has radiated into that area or bend the knee while keeping the ankle straight to see if the patient experiences pain in these positions. An X-ray is usually necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

Most ligament injuries, including high ankle sprains, should be 100% better within about six weeks. If recovery drags on significantly longer, there may be an additional injury.

Physical Treatment

The best way to physically heal ligament injuries after obtaining a proper diagnosis is to employ the R.I.C.E. method.

  • Rest: If you must move around, be sure and use crutches or take some other precautions to ensure that you do not put any weight on the injured ankle. As outlined below, however, some physical activity is both possible and necessary.
  • Ice: Twenty minutes of cold therapy decreases both swelling and pain. Be sure your ice pack stays cold for the requisite amount of time.
  • Compression: Several ankle braces will compress the area to keep inflammation to a minimum and also support the ligaments in the ankle until they fully recover.
  • Elevation: It’s best to keep the ankle elevated above your heart most of the time but be sure and lower it occasionally to allow the blood to flow.

Note that this method does not include painkillers. Such medicines often give people a false sense of recovery because the injured area may feel fine but still not be fully healed.

Emotional Treatment

After the first few weeks, some mobility should return to the area, and the pain should diminish significantly as well. So, you have an opportunity to participate in some non-weight bearing exercises, like bicycling or swimming.

Such activities serve multiple purposes. They get the blood flowing and help speed recovery. Furthermore, such exercise releases endorphins, and the sense of well-being that these hormones trigger will help alleviate injury-related depression, which is probably starting to set in by this time. Finally, and this is especially good if your fitness routine was motivated by concerns about your health or weight, the activity helps you further these goals even as you recover from injury.

By being aware of the types of ankle ligament injuries, and knowing how to handle them, you can overcome both the physical and emotional trauma that they bring.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • HEGG, J. (2017) Ankle Injuries [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Jessica Hegg is the content manager at Interested in all things related to living a healthy lifestyle, she works to share valuable information aimed at overcoming obstacles and improving the quality of life for others.