What are the possible complications of an ankle sprain?

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An ankle sprain is considered as a common joint injury among individuals all over the world. Ankle sprains involve injury to one or more ligaments that surround the ankle joints. The damage on the ligament can range from mild, moderate and severe.

It is important to note that ankle sprains can completely heal but if incorrect treatment is provided or in cases of severe injury or resuming activity early, complications might develop such as constant swelling, prolonged pain, stiffness, and instability as well as nerve dysfunction.

Extensive pain

Chronic pain is considered as the most prevalent complication of an ankle sprain. Even severe cases of sprain can fully heal and free from pain after the span of 8 weeks, thus if the pain lasts, there is a possibility of a fracture, ruptured tendon or cartilage tear that is undiagnosed. Extensive pain without swelling occurs initially with nerve injury. Always remember that chronic pain can frequently interfere with normal walking that can eventually affect the joints in the lower back, hips and knees. You can register for first aid training in order to learn more on pain management measures.

Ankle sprain complications
Stiffness or rigidity is another complication of ankle sprains and typically occur due to severe swelling or inflammation.


Stiffness or rigidity is another complication of ankle sprains and typically occur due to severe swelling or inflammation. The stiffness of the affected ankle can be accompanied by achy pain that can lead to diminished range of movement, particularly dorsiflexion. Over a span of months, the diminished range of movement and dysfunction of the joint can result to osteoarthritis which is evident by the presence of bone spurs and reduced joint pain on the X-ray result.

Constant swelling

Swelling that persists can be triggered by various conditions usually from an unhealed ligament that was torn or a bone contusion that led to compression between the ankle joints or impinged blood vessels. The chronic swelling can also be caused by synovitis which is the swelling of the interior lining of the ankle joint capsules. Constant swelling of the affected ankle joint can be accompanied by low-grade fever but can also occur without pain.


The affected ankle becomes unstable once the sprained ligament heals in a position that is stretched. This will cause the ankle to become hypermobile and move in unusual ways. Take note that the instability leads to a sensation in which the ankle is about to give away and accompanied by constant low grade swelling and pain. The instability typically involves the weakening of the joint and drastically increases the risk for future ankle sprains.

Dysfunction of the nerves

Injuries to the nerves can occur with either significant twisting of the ankle sprain or severe swelling that leads to pressure on the cutaneous nerves that surrounds the ankle. The indications include shooting pain, burning pain, muscle weakness and numbness that gets worse when the individual walks. The muscle weakness often increases the risk for injury due to the diminished coordination.

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