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Common Ankle and Foot Injuries seen by Physiotherapists

Common Ankle and Foot Injuries seen by Physiotherapists

Ligament tear (sprained ankle)

The ligaments of the ankle hold the ankle bones and joint in position, and therefore help to stabilise the ankle joint. They protect the ankle joint from abnormal movements-especially twisting, turning, and rolling of the foot.

A sprained ankle is a common cause of ankle pain. A sprain is stretching and or tearing of ligaments. The most common is an inversion sprain where the ankle turns over so the sole of the foot faces inwards, damaging the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.

The risk of an ankle sprain is greatest during activities that involve explosive side-to-side motion, such as tennis/ basketball/netball.


  • Swelling around the ankle
  • Bruising around the ankle (which can extend along the outside of the foot)
  • Pain around entire ankle joint
  • Pain on weightbearing

Syndesmosis (high ankle sprain)

A high ankle sprain is an injury to the large ligaments (called the syndesmosis) above the ankle that join together the two long bones of the lower leg. High ankle sprains commonly occur from a sudden and forceful outward twisting of the foot, which commonly occurs in contact and cutting sports such as soccer, rugby union and rugby league. The ligament can also be an associated injury with more common low ankle sprains, and even ankle fractures.

A high ankle sprain causes symptoms similar to other ankle sprains, but patients often complain of pain when the ankle is turned outwards or when the calf is squeezed.


  • Pain around the front of the ankle
  • Pain when foot is turned outwards
  • Pain when calf is squeezed

Stress fractures

A stress fracture is generally an overuse injury. It occurs when muscles become fatigued or overloaded and can not absorb the stress and shock and repeated impact. Fatigued muscles transfer that stress to the nearby bone and the result is a small crack or fracture, in the bone.


  • High levels of very localized pain
  • Increased pain when doing specific loaded activity