What is an ankle sprain?

Updated: Jan 14, 2019
  • Author: Craig C Young, MD; Chief Editor: Sherwin SW Ho, MD  more...
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The history of an ankle sprain is usually that of an inversion-type twist of the foot followed by pain and swelling. An individual with an ankle sprain can almost always walk on the foot, albeit carefully and with pain.

In an individual with normal local sensation and cerebral function, the ability to walk on the foot usually excludes a fracture. (See Clinical Presentation.) Suspect neurovascular compromise if the patient reports a cold foot or describes paresthesias. [1] Bone tenderness in the posterior half of the lower 6 cm of the fibula or tibia and the inability to bear weight immediately after the injury and in the emergency department are indications to obtain radiographic imaging. These Ottawa ankle rules have been validated for patients aged 5-55 years. [8, 9]

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