What You Need to Know About High Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains are one of the most common types of injury in America. However, when looking at the almost 25,000 daily cases of anankle sprain, most of these belong to the ‘common’ or low ankle sprain variety. The other type of sprain affects the higher part of the ankle and is a much more painful and intense injury. When it comes to dealing with a high ankle sprain, you want to be as informed as possible about your ankle injury. Read on to learn more about treating and living with a high ankle sprain.

What Is It?

Unlike a common or low ankle sprain, a high sprain occurs when the higher ligaments at the base of the lower leg are twisted or sharply turned. Because of the sprains placement near the movement of so many other muscles and bones, a high sprain is more painful than a low sprain and requires more recovery time. It’s also less common for individuals who don’t enjoy an active lifestyle to sustain. For instance, while a low ankle sprain is fairly common even among inactive people, a high ankle sprain usually involves some level of physical exertion to occur.


Unlike a low ankle sprain, a high sprain will be immediately painful and noticeable. Many sufferers of a low sprain will want to push through the pain or simply ignore it–with a high sprain. This is simply not an option. After experiencing a high sprain, a sufferer will most likely be aware of a sharp pain shooting up into the leg and the base of the foot. The best way to avoid worsening the sprain is to stop putting weight on the injured ankle immediately and find a place to rest.


Recovery time for a high sprain averages around six weeks. This is much different from a low sprain, which requires minimal recovery time. In the context of sports-related injury, a low sprain is preferable not just because it’s less painful, but because it involves far less recovery time than a high sprain. Many players can even continue a game after bracing a low sprain, while a high sprain will most likely cause players to take the bench immediately.


A high ankle sprain is usually the result of a sharp, twisting motion. Because of this, it’s less likely to occur in someone who doesn’t lead an active lifestyle or participate in professional sports. A high ankle sprain is especially common in contact sports like football, soccer, and wrestling. The problem is generally created by an athlete having one foot firmly placed in a stable position while the rest of his or her weight is pushed forward, putting undue stress on the top of the ankle and lower leg. When a high ankle sprain occurs in sports, a team physician is usually on hand to deal with the problem head on. For more long term treatment, players are encouraged to seek outside help. If you’re interested in getting long term treatment for a high ankle sprain, consider seeking out sports medicine treatment from Dr. Bill Nordt


The immediate symptoms of a high ankle sprain will be visible. As with the common sprain, there will most likely be bruising and swelling around the area in addition to a sharp pain. There can be any amount of additional symptoms including stiffness, infection, and nerve damage. Since the juncture of muscle, ligament, and bone is so densely packed at the high ankle level, the pain will most likely spread through the foot and lower leg if any pressure is applied. In addition to the general six-week recovery period, sufferers from high ankle sprains tend to feel symptoms semi-consistently for about six months after the initial injury.


Getting treated for a high ankle sprain involves getting a cast (in the case of a tibia or fibula fracture) and walking boot, and limiting mobility as much as you can for about six weeks. Physical therapy is also highly suggested during that time so as to reduce the possibility of stiffness in the ankle and keep the joints limbered up. Since sustaining any kind of sprain opens up a 70 percent possibility of a re-sprain in the future, victims of a high ankle sprain are coached to lead a sedentary lifestyle during recovery so as to not risk another, separate sprain, as well as any other complications resulting from further injury.