What are the Most Common Symptoms of a Twisted Ankle?

M.C. Huguelet

The term twisted ankle refers to the excessive outward or inward rolling of the foot, which causes the muscles or ligaments surrounding the ankle joint to become stretched or even torn. There are several common symptoms of a twisted ankle. These include swelling, pain, discoloration, and a reduced ability to move the joint. Certain symptoms of a twisted ankle, such as numbness, very intense pain, and total inability to put pressure on the affected joint, generally occur only when the injury is severe, and should be given immediate medical attention.

If capillaries are broken during an ankle injury, there may be bruising and discoloration.
If capillaries are broken during an ankle injury, there may be bruising and discoloration.

An ankle may become twisted due to a fall, a collision while playing sports, or simply an awkward or overly forceful foot placement. When the ankle is twisted, the ligaments in the ankle area may become stretched or torn. This type of ankle twist is known as a sprain. It is also possible for the muscles surrounding the twisted ankle to become stretched or torn. This kind of twist is called a strain.

Ice is often used to treat the swelling caused by a twisted ankle.
Ice is often used to treat the swelling caused by a twisted ankle.

Whether the injury is a sprain or a strain, however, the symptoms of a twisted ankle are fairly universal. Most individuals who have twisted an ankle experience mild to moderate pain. Often, this pain begins at the moment of injury. Depending on the severity of the twist, it may persist for several days or even weeks. Many find that applying ice and taking over-the-counter pain medication is helpful in controlling twist-related pain.

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Sprains and strains are common causes of ankle pain.
Sprains and strains are common causes of ankle pain.

One of the most common symptoms of a twisted ankle is swelling. As with twist-related pain, this swelling often begins almost instantly, and may persist for days or weeks. Wrapping, icing, and elevating the affected ankle may help limit this swelling.

An ankle may become twisted due to an awkward foot placement during high intensity activities like running.
An ankle may become twisted due to an awkward foot placement during high intensity activities like running.

Some individuals have difficulty moving the affected ankle following a twist. This limited mobility may actually be a secondary symptom caused by swelling and pain, however. If capillaries are broken during an ankle injury, the skin surrounding the affected ankle may also become bruised or discolored.

Ankle numbness may occur as a result of a severely twisted ankle.
Ankle numbness may occur as a result of a severely twisted ankle.

Certain symptoms of a twisted ankle may occur only if the injury is severe. These symptoms can include ankle numbness, intense pain which does not respond to pain medication, and an inability to put any weight on the affected ankle. Often, these symptoms are a sign that the muscles or ligaments surrounding the ankle have been seriously torn. Those experiencing these symptoms should consult a physician as soon as possible to minimize long-term muscle or ligament damage.

A twisted ankle causes pain.
A twisted ankle causes pain.

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