young person with sprained ankle wrapped in bandage | Experienced Maryland PodiatristsAnkle sprains are common injuries. In fact, they are one of the most common injuries encountered in the United States. But what is the difference between a common ankle sprain and a high ankle sprain? And why do athletes with a high ankle sprain seem to be out for a longer period of time? The reason lies in the anatomy of the ankle and the different ligaments injured in a common vs. high ankle sprain.

The ankle is made of three bones in the lower leg: the tibia, the fibula, and the talus. These bones act together to form the ankle joint, which typically sustains loads three times a person’s body weight with normal daily activity. The soft tissues that surround the ankle allow for its stability and motion. The ligaments, in particular, stabilize the ankle.

High Ankle Sprains

A high ankle sprain is a rotational injury in which the ligaments between the tibia and fibula become torn or stretched. This is a serious injury and takes about twice as long as a common sprain to heal. Patients will be required to wear a walking boot for several weeks, followed by an ankle brace. Sometimes surgery is required to repair the ligament.

Low Ankle Sprain

A low ankle sprain—where the ankle is rolled, and the outer ligaments are stretched—is much more common, thus the name. Treatment usually consists of wearing an ankle brace and physical therapy.

Eric Harmelin, DPM
Connect with me
Experienced Amputation Prevention Specialist and Podiatrist in Annapolis, Stevensville, and Glen Burnie, MD.