Ankle Injury Overview

The ankles support the entire body weight and ankle injuries are very common. Each year, approximately 2 million patients are treated for ankle sprains and strains, and ankle fractures are one of the most common injuries treated by orthopedists and podiatrists.

Risk Factors & Causes of Ankle Injuries

Anyone, from the most well-conditioned athlete to the most sedentary person, can experience an ankle injury. Usually, the cause is accidental (e.g., stepping into a pothole, slipping while getting out of the car). People who are overweight and those who wear high-heeled shoes are at an increased risk for ankle injuries.

Ankle injuries usually involve a sudden, unexpected, loss of balance that results in a sharp twist of the ankle. A strain occurs when a muscle or tendon overstretches. A sprain, which is more serious, occurs when strong connective tissue that connects one bone to another (ligament) becomes overstretched.

In severe cases, a ligament tears and may pull a fragment of bone with it. When a piece of bone is pulled away, it is known as an avulsion fracture.

Sprains account for about 85 percent of all ankle injuries and about 45 percent of all sports-related injuries. It is estimated that as many as 50 percent of people who experience an ankle sprain will have a recurrence.

Publication Review By: Hai-En Peng, D.P.M.

Published: 31 Dec 1999

Last Modified: 01 Sep 2015