Common foot and ankle injuries - sports and orthopedic medicine (2023)

Ankle injuries are often thought of as sports injuries. But you don't have to be an athlete or even a "weekend warrior" to change rank and get injured. Something as simple as walking on an uneven surface can cause a painful and debilitating sprain.

Ankle injuries can happen to anyone at any age. However, men between the ages of 15 and 24 have a higher rate of ankle sprains than women over 30, who have a higher rate than men. Half of all ankle sprains occur during athletic activity. Every day in the United States, 25,000 people sprain their ankles. And more than 1 million people visit emergency departments for ankle injuries each year. The most common ankle injuries are sprains and fractures that affect the ligaments and bones of the ankle. You can also tear or sprain a tendon.

What types of ankle injuries are there?

Sprains, strains etcfractures

Ankle injuries are defined by the type of tissue damaged (bone, ligament, or tendon). Three bones meet at the ankle: the tibia and fibula of the lower leg with the talus of the foot. These bones are held together at the ankle by ligaments, which are strong elastic bands of connective tissue that hold the bones in place while allowing normal movement of the ankle. Tendons attach muscles to bones to move the ankle and foot and keep joints stable.

A fracture describes a break in one or more bones. A sprain is the term used to describe damage to the ligaments when they are stretched beyond their normal range of motion. A sprained ligament can range from many microscopic tears in the fibers that make up the ligament to a complete tear or tear. A strain refers to damage to muscles and tendons from excessive pulling or stretching.

Muscle and tendon strains are most common in the legs and lower back. There are two tendons in the ankle that often become tense. These are the peroneal tendons that stabilize and protect the ankle. They can become inflamed from overuse or trauma. Acute tendon ruptures are the result of sudden force or trauma. Inflammation of a tendon is called tendonitis. Microscopic tears in the tendons that accumulate over time from being repeatedly stretched and not healing properly lead to a condition called tendinosis. Tendons can also tear. Subluxation refers to slippage of the tendon.

(Video) Sports Injuries in the Foot and Ankle | Joan Williams, MD | UCLAMDChat

What Causes Ankle Injuries?

An ankle injury occurs when the ankle is twisted too far from its normal position. Most ankle injuries occur while playing sports or walking on an uneven surface that forces the foot and ankle into an unnatural position. The unnatural position of the ankle in high-heeled shoes or walking in loose, unstable clogs or sandals also contribute to ankle injuries. In addition to wearing faulty shoes, an ankle injury can occur from:

  • stumble or fall
  • Clumsy landing after a jump
  • Walking or running on uneven ground
  • A sudden impact such as B. a car accident.
  • twisting or twisting of the ankle
  • roll the ankle

Are there different signs for different ankle injuries?

The symptoms of a sprain and a fracture are very similar. In fact, fractures can sometimes be confused with sprains. That's why it's important to get an ankle injury checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. Signs include:

  • Pain, often sudden and violent
  • swelling
  • hematoma
  • Inability to walk or put weight on the injured joint

A sprain can also cause the ankle to become stiff. If there is a fracture, the area will feel tender and the ankle may also appear deformed or dislocated.

If the sprain is mild, the swelling and pain may be mild. But with a severe sprain, there is a lot of swelling and the pain is usually severe.

Tendonitis and acute ruptures of the peroneal tendon cause pain and inflammation. In addition, the ankle area feels hot with tendinitis. An acute tear results in weakness or instability of the foot and ankle.

It can take years for tendinosis to develop. Symptoms include:

(Video) Foot and Ankle Injuries and fractures - Everything You Need To Know - Dr. Nabil Ebraheim

  • Intermittent pain on the outside of the ankle.
  • Ankle weakness or instability
  • An increase in the height of the arch of the foot.

With a subluxation, you notice instability or weakness in your ankle. You may also notice sporadic pain behind the outer ankle and a "popping" sound around the ankle.

What should someone do after an ankle injury?

You can provide first aid for an ankle injury by remembering R.I.C.E: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.

  • Relax. It's important to rest your ankle to prevent further damage and take the weight off your ankle.
  • It is. Using ice will help slow or reduce swelling and provide a numbing sensation that reduces pain. Proper freezing includes freezing within 48 hours of an injury. Never leave the ice on for more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time to avoid frostbite. Wait 40 to 45 minutes before re-icing to allow the tissue to return to normal temperature and sensation, and repeat as needed. You can apply an ice pack with a plastic freezer bag filled with ice cubes and water to mold to the ankle, or use a frozen bag of vegetables such as corn or peas (do not eat and refreeze after use), using a layer of towel in between the skin and the plastic bag.
  • Compression. Wrapping the injured ankle in an elastic bandage or ready-made compression bandage will help keep it immobilized and supported. Make sure you don't wrap your ankle too tightly. If the toes turn blue, cool down or lose the feeling that the bandage is too tight.
  • Lift. Raising the injured ankle at least to heart level reduces swelling and pain.

It is important not to put any strain on the ankle until it has been examined by a doctor, which should be done as soon as possible. Fractures and sprains that are ignored or not treated properly can lead to chronic, long-term ankle problems such as recurrent injuries, ankle weakness and arthritis.

How does a doctor diagnose an ankle injury?

The first thing a doctor will do is ask questions about how the injury occurred. The doctor will then examine the ankle and determine the extent of the swelling and bruising. Physical examination of the ankle can be painful because doctors need to move the ankle to assess pain and swelling to make a correct diagnosis.

Your doctor may order an x-ray of your ankle to see if you have any broken bones. In addition to an ankle x-ray, your doctor may order x-rays of your leg and foot to determine if there may be other related injuries. If the doctor suspects a stress fracture, they will order other imaging tests, such as B. an MRI, which shows more details about the injury. If there is a fracture, the doctor may also order a stress test, which is a special X-ray that puts pressure on the joint. This helps the doctor determine if surgery is needed.

For most ankle injuries, pain is controlled with over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen or another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen. The specific treatment for injuries depends on the type of injury.

(Video) Foot and Ankle Injuries - Health Matters

fracture treatment

Fractures can be treated surgically or non-surgically. The doctor can treat the fracture without surgery by splinting the ankle if only one bone is broken and the bones are not misplaced and the ankle is stable. Usually, the doctor will do this by applying a splint, which works like a splint, or by applying a cast. If the ankle is unstable, the fracture is treated surgically. Often the ankle is stabilized with a metal plate and screws to hold the bones in place. After the operation, the ankle is fixed with a splint and then with a plaster cast until the swelling has subsided.

Bones usually take at least six weeks to heal. Your doctor will likely ask you to take weight off your ankle during this time to allow the bones to heal and align properly. Ligaments and tendons may take longer to heal after a fracture has been fully repaired. It can take up to two years to regain full range of motion and strength without pain after an ankle fracture, although most people are able to resume normal daily activities within three to four months.

Once your doctor has determined it's safe for you to move your ankle, you may need physical therapy to help with gait, balance, strengthening, and mobility exercises. The therapist will develop a home program that will allow you to return to your previous normal function. It may take several months before you return to a normal walk without a limp.

treatment of sprains

Sprain treatment depends on the severity of the injury. They are classified as easy, moderate or difficult. Surgery is generally not a treatment option unless the damage is extensive, affects more than ligaments, or when other treatment options have failed.

Mild sprains, called Grade 1, are treated using the RICE method for several days until the pain and swelling subside. If you have a minor sprain, you don't need a splint or cast. Your doctor will direct you to put on ankle weights soon, in one to three days, for as long as you can tolerate, and will prescribe range of motion, stretching, and strengthening exercises.

If your sprain is classified as moderate or grade 2, your doctor will use the RICE approach but allow more time for healing. The doctor may also use a device such as a boot or splint to immobilize the ankle. You will be given exercises to first improve your range of motion and then stretch and strengthen your ankle. Your doctor may also prescribe physical therapy to help you regain full use of your ankle.

(Video) 5 Common Sports Injuries

Grade 3, or a severe sprain, involves a complete tear or rupture of a ligament and takes much longer to heal. It is treated with immobilization of the joint, followed by an extended period of physical therapy for range of motion, stretching, and strengthening. Occasionally, particularly if the sprain does not heal in a reasonable amount of time, surgery to repair the torn ligaments is considered.

On average, initial treatment for a sprain involves resting and protecting the ankle until the swelling goes down for about a week. This is followed by a one to two week exercise period to restore mobility, strength and flexibility. It may take several weeks to several months before you gradually return to your normal activities while continuing to exercise.

Treatment of tendon injuries

The options for treating tendon injuries are similar to treating sprains. They include:

  • Plaster or splint immobilization
  • Oral or injectable anti-inflammatory drugs for pain relief.
  • Physiotherapy for mobility, strength and balance
  • A bandage to support activities.
  • Surgery to repair the tendon or tendons and sometimes to repair the supporting structures of the foot.

Can ankle injuries be prevented?

The National Institute forArthritisand Musculoskeletal and Skin Disorders recommends the following steps to reduce the risk of ankle injury:

  • Avoid moving or playing sports when you are tired or in pain.
  • Keep your muscles strong by eating a balanced diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Try to avoid falls.
  • Wear shoes that fit well and are appropriate for the activity you are doing.
  • Do not wear shoes with heels worn on one side.
  • Practice every day.
  • Maintain the right physical condition for every sport you play.
  • Warm up and stretch before exercising or exercising.
  • Wear the right gear for every sport you play.
  • Walk on flat surfaces.

The Oregon Center for Orthopedic and Sports Medicine is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group based in downtown Portland, Oregon. We treat injuries of the musculoskeletal system, spinal diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital diseases using surgical and non-surgical means.

Our mission is to return our patients to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible with surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

(Video) Treatment Options for Common Foot and Ankle Injuries

Our medical specialists provide comprehensive, state-of-the-art care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest cutting-edge techniques to bring our patients back to their active lifestyles.

If you are looking for knowledgeable and compassionate orthopedic surgeons in Portland, Oregon, contact OSM today.


What are the common injuries to the foot and ankle? ›

Top 5 Most Common Foot and Ankle Injuries to Look Out For
  • Ankle Sprains.
  • Plantar Fasciitis.
  • Achilles Tendonitis or Tears.
  • Turf Toe.
  • Broken Metatarsal.
Aug 5, 2021

What are the most common ankle injuries in sport? ›

Acute ankle sprain is the most common lower limb injury in athletes and accounts for 16%-40% of all sports-related injuries. It is especially common in basketball, American football, and soccer. The majority of sprains affect the lateral ligaments, particularly the anterior talofibular ligament.

What is the most common foot injury in sports? ›

Ankle Sprain

Inversion ankle sprains are the most common type and are caused by twisting the foot inward, resulting in damage to the outer ligaments as they are stretched.

Which are most common Orthopaedic diseases of a foot? ›

Top 10 foot and ankle conditions
  1. Arthritis. Arthritis is a joint disease that can affect the foot, ankle and big toe. ...
  2. Flat feet. ...
  3. Bunions (Hallux Valgus) ...
  4. Hammer toe. ...
  5. Metatarsalgia. ...
  6. Ankle instability. ...
  7. Cartilage injury (Osteochondral injury) ...
  8. Ankle and foot fractures.
Sep 2, 2022

What are common athlete injuries in foot? ›

Some common foot injuries are plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, Lisfranc injuries and turf toe. Knowing the warning signs of foot injuries is beneficial. It can help prevent any further damage to your feet. If you want to learn more about common sports-related foot injuries, talk to your doctor.

What are the 7 common types of sports injuries? ›

The most common sports injuries are:
  • Sprains and strains.
  • Knee injuries.
  • Swollen muscles.
  • Achilles tendon injuries.
  • Pain along the shin bone.
  • Rotator cuff injuries.
  • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Dislocations.
Jan 2, 2017

What are common foot injuries from exercise? ›

Common exercise-related foot injuries include Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, sprained ankles, pinched nerves, and heel spurs. Interestingly, exercises that target strengthening and stretching the feet can help reduce your risk of exercise-related foot injuries.

What are the 10 most common sports injuries? ›

Top 10 Most Common Sports Injuries
  • Tennis or Golf Elbow.
  • Hamstring Strain. ...
  • Sciatica. ...
  • Shin Splints. ...
  • Groin Pull. ...
  • Concussion. ...
  • ACL Tear or Strain. The ACL, anterior cruciate ligament, is one of the major stabilizing ligaments of the knee. ...
  • Hip Flexor Strain. The hip flexors are muscles found on the upper-front side of your thigh. ...

What are the 5 most common sports injuries? ›

Here's a look at the top five most common sports injuries, how to treat them and what you can do to prevent future injuries.
  • Sprains. ...
  • Strains. ...
  • Fractures. ...
  • Concussions. ...
  • Overuse injuries. ...
  • Preventing sports injuries.

What are the 8 common injuries in sports? ›

8 Most Common Sports Injuries
  • Strains. Strains are by far the most common of all sports-related injuries simply because we use so many muscles and tendons when we exercise or play. ...
  • Sprains. ...
  • Knee injuries. ...
  • Fractures. ...
  • Tennis elbow. ...
  • Plantar fasciitis/shin splints. ...
  • Back injuries/back pain. ...
  • Concussion.

What are the three major injuries of the ankle? ›

Ankle strains, sprains and fractures are among the most common orthopedic injuries. While they are most often seen as a sports injury, you don't have to be an athlete to hurt your ankle.

What are the 4 most common types of injuries *? ›

Dislocations. Electrical injuries. Fractures (broken bones) Sprains and strains.

What are different types of foot injuries? ›

Sudden (acute) injury
  • Bruises (contusions). ...
  • Puncture wounds. ...
  • Injuries to ligaments that support your joints.
  • Injuries to tendons, such as ruptured tendons in your heel (Achilles tendon). ...
  • Injuries to your joints (sprains). ...
  • Pulled muscles (strains). ...
  • Broken bones (fractures), such as a broken toe.

What will an orthopedic doctor do for ankle pain? ›

In most cases, your orthopedic surgeon will explore all non-surgical treatments before choosing to operate. Among the non-surgical treatments and therapies for foot and ankle conditions are: Bracing, splinting or casting the foot/ankle. Using supports like crutches or other assistive devices.

What are orthopedic disorders on foot? ›

There are various types of foot deformities, such as hallux valgus, hallux varus, pes cavus, pes planus, hallux rigidus, hammertoe, claw toe, mallet toe, plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, foot arthritis, congenital clubfoot, metatarsus adductus, and diabetic foot, that affect children, adults, and elderly population.

What is the most common orthopedic injury? ›

Compression fracture – Compression fractures are tiny cracks in the bone that can lead to bone collapse. They are most common in the bones that support the spinal cord, and the leading cause of compression fractures is osteoporosis.

What are the types of ankle injuries? ›

Types of Ankle Injuries
  • Ankle Sprain: Caused by stretching or tearing of one or more ligaments (structures that connect bones to bones). ...
  • Tendonitis: An inflammation of a tendon caused by overuse. ...
  • Fractures: Ankle injuries can sometimes result in fractures of the bones comprising the ankle joint.

What are 3 common sports injuries? ›

Some of the common injuries experienced by athletes and people who have jobs or hobbies that involve doing a repetitive motion include:
  • Shoulder Injuries. Rotator cuff injury. ...
  • Elbow Injuries. Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis). ...
  • Knee Injuries. Runner's knee. ...
  • Leg Injuries. Groin pull. ...
  • Ankle Injuries. Ankle sprain.
Sep 1, 2021

What are 3 common sports injuries and their cause? ›

Sports injuries are commonly caused by overuse, direct impact, or the application of force that is greater than the body part can structurally withstand. Common injuries include bruises, sprains, strains, joint injuries and nose bleeds.

Which are the 3 most commonly injured ankle ligaments? ›

These may also occur with ankle fractures as well. The most common and significant ligament tears include tears in the Anterior TaloFibular Ligament (ATFL), CalcaneoFibular Ligament (CFL), and the large Deltoid ligament complex.

What are the 10 sports injuries you can prevent? ›

10 Common Sports Injuries: Prevention and Treatment
  • Runner's Knee. Knee injuries are one of the most common sporting injuries treated by orthopedic surgeons. ...
  • Shoulder Injury. Shoulder injuries are common in a number of sports. ...
  • Achilles Tendinitis. ...
  • Concussion. ...
  • Ankle Sprain. ...
  • Tennis Elbow. ...
  • Pulled Muscle. ...
  • Groin Strain.
Jun 8, 2018

What are 5 causes of injuries in sports? ›

Common Sports Injuries

A sports injury can be caused by an accident, impact, poor training practices, improper equipment, lack of conditioning, or insufficient warm-up and stretching.

What are the six most common sports related injuries? ›

The 6 Most Common Sports Injuries
  • Ankle Sprain & Other Sprains. Sprains are a risk during any type of sport. ...
  • Knee Injuries. ...
  • Muscle Strains. ...
  • Shoulder Injuries. ...
  • Shin Splints. ...
  • Fractures.

What are common foot problems? ›

Common foot problems include ingrown nails, mycotic nails (fungus-infected nails), corns, calluses, and plantar warts. Treatment and prevention tips for each of these conditions are provided.

What are 4 common injuries of the lower leg and foot? ›

Ankles and Feet

The lower leg is prone to many common injuries, including shin splints, calf strain, Achilles tendinitis, and sprains and fractures. Ankle sprains are common, causing swelling, bruising, and pain, most often on the outside of the foot.

What are the 5 types of injuries? ›

Five Types of Injuries and Five Causes
  • Soft Tissue Injuries. Soft tissue injuries are some of the most common types of injuries. ...
  • Broken Bones. Our bones support our bodies and help us move. ...
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries. ...
  • Spinal Cord Injuries. ...
  • Psychological Injuries.
Oct 29, 2019

What are serious injuries in sports? ›

There are two kinds of sports injuries: Acute traumatic injuries are things like fractures, sprains and strains, concussions, and cuts. They usually happen after a blow or force — like getting tackled in football or wiping out while skateboarding. Overuse injuries include things like stress fractures and tendonitis.

What is the most common cause of sports injuries? ›

Sports injuries are most commonly caused by poor training methods; structural abnormalities; weakness in muscles, tendons, ligaments; and unsafe exercising environments. The most common cause of injury is poor training. For example, muscles need 48 hours to recover after a workout.

What is the injury list in sports called? ›

The exact name of the list varies by league; it is known as "injured reserve" in the National Football League (NFL) and National Hockey League (NHL), the "injured list" in the Canadian Football League (CFL), and the injured list (historically known as the "disabled list") in Major League Baseball (MLB).

What are the symptoms of a torn ligament in foot? ›

5 Signs You May Have a Torn Ligament or Sprain in Your Foot
  • Increased Pain with Physical Activity. A torn ligament typically comes from activity. ...
  • Pain & Tenderness Near Arch. ...
  • Arch of Foot Bruised. ...
  • Swelling and Bruising at Injury Site. ...
  • Inability to Bear Weight on the Injured Foot.
Jun 17, 2021

What causes pain around the ankle and foot? ›

The most common causes include injury, arthritis and normal wear and tear. Depending on the cause, you may feel pain or stiffness anywhere around the ankle. Your ankle may also swell, and you may not be able to put any weight on it. Usually, ankle pain gets better with rest, ice and over-the-counter pain medications.

Will xray show torn ligament in foot? ›

X-rays do NOT show tendons, ligaments, nerves, cartilage or blood vessels. X-rays typically show bones and joints, and may, at times, show the absence of skin (e.g. infection).

What test shows torn ligaments? ›

Imaging Tests

Our doctors often use ultrasound to diagnose muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries because the imaging test can produce clearer picture of soft tissues. Doctors use MRI scan to examine the ligaments to determine the extent of a knee injury.

How do you tell if a tendon is torn or strained? ›

Tendon Tear Symptoms
  1. A snap or pop at the affected area.
  2. Severe and excruciating pain.
  3. Immediate bruising.
  4. Pain and discomfort that worsens with tendon use.
  5. A “crunchy” sound or feeling (crepitus) with tendon use.
  6. Severe weakness.
  7. Reduced range of motion.
  8. Inability to bear weight, especially in Achilles Tendon Tear.

What is the most common ankle sprain called? ›

The most common type of sprain is an inversion injury, where the foot is rotated inward. Ankle sprains can range from mild, to moderate, and severe. Type 1 ankle sprain is a mild sprain. It occurs when the ligaments have been stretched or torn minimally.

What is the most common ankle tendon injury? ›

The Achilles tendon is the largest and most common tendon to develop inflammation in the foot and ankle. Achilles tendonitis causes pain either at the site where the Achilles attaches to the calcaneus (insertional), or about 2 inches above this point (non-insertional).

What is the most common ankle sprain? ›

The most common type of ankle sprain is an inversion injury, or lateral ankle sprain. The foot rolls inward, damaging the ligaments of the outer ankle — the anterior talofibular ligament, the calcaneofibular ligament, and the posterior talofibular ligament.

What is the best painkiller for foot pain? ›

Oral analgesic medications such as acetaminophen (paracetamol) or aspirin are often the first line choice for quick relief of foot pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen are also often recommended and can help to reduce inflammation at the same time.

What helps foot and ankle pain? ›

  1. Rest. Keep weight off your ankle as much as possible. ...
  2. Ice. Place an ice pack or bag of frozen peas on your ankle for 15 to 20 minutes three times a day.
  3. Compression. Use a compression bandage to reduce swelling.
  4. Elevation. ...
  5. Over-the-counter pain medications.

What does a torn ligament in ankle feel like? ›

What Are the Symptoms of a Torn Ligament in an Ankle? You can feel sudden pain, and a tearing, snapping or popping sensation – which might be so bad you can't put weight on your foot – and swelling around your ankle joint. In some cases, there may bruising that extends down your foot and up your calf.

What is the most common injury to the lower leg and ankle? ›

Sprains. Sprains are stretches and tears of ligaments. A sprained ankle is the most common ligament injury of the leg.

What are the 4 main types of injuries? ›

Dislocations. Electrical injuries. Fractures (broken bones) Sprains and strains.

What are the different types of injured ankles? ›

Types of Ankle Injuries
  • Ankle Sprain: Caused by stretching or tearing of one or more ligaments (structures that connect bones to bones). ...
  • Tendonitis: An inflammation of a tendon caused by overuse. ...
  • Fractures: Ankle injuries can sometimes result in fractures of the bones comprising the ankle joint.


1. Common orthopedic foot and ankle problems
(Montefiore Nyack Community Chats)
2. Foot & Ankle Sports Injuries; Tyler Mulkey, DPM, Orthopedics
(Mason City Clinic)
3. Common Foot and Ankle Injuries
(Inova Health System)
4. Miller's Orthopaedic Lectures: Sports 1
5. Common Foot and Ankle Injuries in Children Q&A with Dr. Brandt
(Johns Hopkins Medicine)
6. Return to Play After Foot and Ankle Injury | UPMC Sports Medicine


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Laurine Ryan

Last Updated: 09/17/2023

Views: 6195

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (57 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Laurine Ryan

Birthday: 1994-12-23

Address: Suite 751 871 Lissette Throughway, West Kittie, NH 41603

Phone: +2366831109631

Job: Sales Producer

Hobby: Creative writing, Motor sports, Do it yourself, Skateboarding, Coffee roasting, Calligraphy, Stand-up comedy

Introduction: My name is Laurine Ryan, I am a adorable, fair, graceful, spotless, gorgeous, homely, cooperative person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.