Ankle Strain Injury

Ankle Strain Injury

Strain to any muscles or tendons that surround the ankle. Muscles, tendons and bones comprise units. These units stabilize the ankle and allow its motion. A strain occurs at the weakest part of a unit. Strains are of 3 types:

  1. Mild (Grade I) – Slightly pulled muscle without tearing of muscle or tendon fibers. There is no loss of strength.
  2. Moderate (Grade 11) – Tearing of fibers in a muscle, tendon or at the attachment to bone. Strength is diminished.
  3. Severe (Grade III) – Rupture of the muscle-tendon-bone attachment with separation of fibers. Severe strain requires surgical repair. Chronic strains are caused by overuse. Acute strains are caused by direct injury or overstress.


  • Tendons and muscles surrounding the ankle.
  • Lower-leg bones (tibia and fibula) and foot bones.
  • Soft tissue surrounding the strained muscle and attached tendon, including nerves, periosteum (covering to bone), blood vessels and lymph vessels.


  • Prolonged overuse of muscle-tendon units in the ankle.
  • Single violent injury or force applied to the muscle-tendon unit in the ankle.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Pain when moving or stretching the ankle.
  • Muscle spasm in the calf.
  • Tenderness to the touch
  • Swelling in the ankle.
  • Calcification of the muscle or its tendon (visible with X-ray).
  • Inflammation of the sheath covering the tendon.


Follow your doctor’s instructions. These instructions are supplemental.

  • Use instructions for R.I.C.E., the letters of rest, ice, compression and elevation.
  • Use ice massage 3 or 4 times a day for 15 minutes at a time. Fill a large Styrofoam cup and freeze. Tear a small amount of foam from the top so ice protrudes. Massage firmly over the Injured area In a circle about the size of a softball.
  • After the first 24 hours, apply heat instead of ice, if it feels better. Use heat lamps, hot soaks, hot showers, heating pads, or heat liniments or ointments.
  • Take whirlpool treatments, if available.
  • If a cast was used, wrap the injured ankle with an elasticized bandage between treatments after the cast is removed.
  • Massage gently and often to provide comfort and decrease swelling.

Home Diet

  • Eat a well-balanced diet that includes extra protein, such as meat, fish, poultry, cheese, milk and eggs. Increase fiber and fluid intake to prevent constipation that may result from decreased activity
  • Participate in a strengthening and conditioning program appropriate for your sport.
  • Warm up before practice or competition.
  • Tape the ankle area before practice or competition.
  • Wear proper shoes and protective equipment.

Useful References

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