Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"What is a high ankle sprain?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat is a high ankle sprain?


I twisted my ankle playing softball, but the pain is not on my ankle bone, but higher up my leg. Is this what is called a high ankle sprain or did I just strain some muscles?


Sorry to hear that you may have sprained your ankle while playing softball, and you are having some pain in your leg. The leg pain after a sprained ankle is actually more common then you may think, as there is an anatomic explanation for this which I will get into. First of all a "high ankle sprain" or syndesmotic ankle sprain, refers to a sprain of the syndesmotic ligaments that hold the tibia and fibula (2 bones of your leg) together above your ankle. It is called a "high" ankle sprain because it actually occurs above the ankle. This typically happens from a twisting movement, and the pain felt is typically above the ankle on the lateral aspect of the leg, and is made worse with twisting. Most "classic" ankle sprains involve the ligaments within the ankle, and there are many different classification schemes for sprains. Generally speaking one can think of ankle sprains as "high", "inversion", or "eversion" ankle sprains. An inversion ankle sprain means that excess stress is placed on the lateral aspect of the ankle joint as the foot rotates inward. The anterior talofibular ligaments is commonly involved. Eversion sprains are the opposite rotation, and they are much less common. With inversion sprains, it is possible to have involvement of some of the tends that pass through the ankle to the foot (tendons connect muscle to bone, and ligaments attach bone to bone). For example the Peroneus longus is a muscle on the lateral aspect of your leg that has a tendon that swings underneath the lateral maleolus (ankle bone) and attaches to your foot. If this is strained, you could feel the pain high on the lateral aspect of your calf where the muscle is located. If you are still having pain, and it is not getting better after a couple of weeks, or if you have any ankle instability, I would recommend making an appointment to be evaluated by an orthopedic doctor. I hope this information is helpful.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.