High Ankle Sprains: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

High Ankle Sprain

Table of Contents


High ankle sprains, also recognized as syndesmotic ankle sprains, manifest as injuries occurring above the ankle joint, implicating the ligaments connecting the tibia and fibula bones. While conventional ankle sprains affect the ligaments on the sides of the ankle, high ankle sprains, though less prevalent, exhibit heightened severity and pose increased recovery challenges. This article aims to investigate the origins, symptoms, treatment modalities, and preventive strategies associated with high ankle sprains.


High ankle sprains typically result from excessive external rotation of the foot, causing the ligaments that connect the tibia and fibula to stretch or tear. Common causes include:

  1. Sports Injuries: High ankle sprains are often associated with sports that involve sudden changes in direction, such as football, soccer, basketball, and skiing.
  2. Traumatic Events: Accidents, falls, or collisions can lead to high ankle sprains, especially when the foot is forced outward while the leg is rotated.
  3. Uneven Surfaces: The likelihood of high ankle sprains rises when walking or running on irregular surfaces, as the foot may undergo unexpected twists.


Identifying the symptoms of a high ankle sprain is vital for swift and effective treatment. Common indicators encompass:

  1. Pain: Persistent pain above the ankle joint, especially during weight-bearing activities.
  2. Swelling: Swelling around the front of the ankle and lower leg.
  3. Bruising: Discoloration or bruising may appear due to damaged blood vessels.
  4. Limited Range of Motion: Difficulty moving the ankle joint, particularly when rotating the foot.
  5. Tenderness: The area around the ankle may be sensitive to touch.


Early and appropriate treatment is essential for a successful recovery from a high ankle sprain. The R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) method is commonly recommended:

  1. Rest: Refrain from placing any weight on the impacted ankle to facilitate the healing process.
  2. Ice: Utilize ice packs on the injured region for 15-20 minutes at intervals of a few hours to alleviate swelling and pain.
  3. Compression: Use a compression bandage to minimize swelling and provide support.
  4. Elevation: Keep the affected leg elevated to further reduce swelling.

In some cases, healthcare professionals may recommend immobilization with a brace or cast. Severe sprains may require surgical intervention to repair the damaged ligaments.

Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy

Following the initial treatment, a structured rehabilitation program is essential to regain strength, flexibility, and stability in the affected ankle. Physical therapy exercises may include:

  1. Range of Motion Exercises: Gentle movements to improve flexibility and reduce stiffness.
  2. Strengthening Exercises: Targeting the muscles around the ankle joint to enhance stability.
  3. Balance Training: Activities to improve proprioception and prevent future injuries.


Preventing high ankle sprains involves adopting precautionary measures, especially for individuals participating in sports or activities with a higher risk of ankle injuries:

  1. Proper Footwear: Wear supportive shoes suitable for the specific activity.
  2. Warm-up and Stretching: Prioritize warm-up exercises and stretches before engaging in physical activities.
  3. Ankle Bracing: Consider using ankle braces or supports, especially if recovering from a previous ankle injury.
  4. Technique Training: Familiarize yourself with and consistently apply proper techniques in sports and activities to decrease the likelihood of injury.


High ankle sprains, though potentially debilitating, can be overcome through timely and appropriate care. A comprehensive approach involving understanding causes, identifying symptoms, and adhering to a well-rounded treatment and rehabilitation plan is key to managing and preventing these injuries. In the event of suspicion of a high ankle sprain, seeking prompt medical attention ensures an accurate diagnosis and the implementation of the most effective treatment.

High Ankle Sprains FAQ

After the swelling and pain subside, regaining motion, strength, and balance in the ankle is critical for returning to normal function. Rehabilitation activities are typically performed under the supervision of a physical therapist or athletic trainer. High ankle sprains can take several weeks or months to heal.
Crutches are advised until pain-free walking is achievable. Your doctor might suggest the use of a supportive brace, air stirrup, or walking boot to expedite the transition to walking without crutches. In the case of grade I sprains, it is advisable to commence physical therapy at the earliest opportunity.
A high ankle sprain ensues when the ligaments connecting the tibia and fibula are either torn or stretched. This form of sprain is characterized more by a rotational injury rather than a simple roll of the ankle. In contrast to a low ankle sprain, a high ankle sprain represents a more substantial injury and typically requires approximately twice the duration for complete healing.
In numerous instances, your ankle sprain will undergo spontaneous healing if provided with sufficient time. Minor sprains typically recover within a couple of weeks, whereas more severe ones may require six weeks or even longer. The crucial aspect in this context is refraining from putting weight on the affected ankle.


If you would like an appointment / review with our high ankle sprains specialist in Singapore, the best way is to call +65 3135 1327 or click here to book an appointment at the clinic. If you would like to speak to one of our clinicians first, then please contact contact@orthopaedicclinic.com.sg or SMS/WhatsApp to +65 3135 1327.

Rest assured that the best possible care will be provided for you.

Make an Appointment Button

× Chat with us for more information