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Ankle sprains and avulsion fractures

Patient information A-Z

What is an ankle sprain?

An ankle sprain is an injury to the ligaments surrounding the ankle joint. This often occurs when the ankle is forced to bend more than normal, stretching the ligaments and soft tissues which hold the ankle and foot bones in place. In a severe sprain, the ligaments may be partially or completely torn.

What is an avulsion fracture?

Occasionally a small piece/ flake of bone may be pulled off, where the ligament attaches to the bone. These are minor fractures and are stable, so you will not need a plaster cast. You may be given a supportive boot to wear for up to six weeks.

X-Ray of Avulsion fracture
Avulsion fracture

Avulsion fractures are treated in the same way as a sprain.

These fractures may take several weeks to heal, whilst you may expect pain and swelling for up to a few months.

These injuries are not routinely followed up at hospital.

Swelling and bruising at the fracture site is normal. Regular pain killers and applying ice to the area will help to reduce swelling and pain. Ice should be applied, wrapped in a tea towel, for 20 minutes three to four times a day.

You should:

  • Take pain killers as needed to keep pain levels under control.
  • Use ice and elevate ankle to bring the swelling down.
  • Wear supportive footwear as recommended, this can be removed at night and when resting.
  • Weight bear as the pain allows, in the walking boot.
  • Gently start to move ankle as pain allows, to prevent stiffness.

You should not:

  • Take part in any physical contact sports which may put you at risk of further injury. The time frame for this will be outlined at the point of assessment.
  • Drive whilst wearing the walking boot as you will void your insurance should you have an accident.

Please remember:

Contact your GP if your condition is not improving, or if your pain relief is not adequate.

If your condition is worsening please contact the multi professional fracture clinic - call 01223 348299 or call 01223 257095

For more information please visit the Fracture Info website (opens in a new tab).

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Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151