Ligament Sprain: Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis

Ligament Sprain: Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis

Throughout this text we are going to learn everything about ligament sprains, from what they are and where they are found, to the main causes and the most common symptoms. Although we have already anticipated that not all of us suffer from the same symptoms, and sometimes not feeling pain leads us to not find a solution and continue doing sports, which leads us to a major injury that can become chronic.

What is it?

A sprain is a stretching or tearing of the ligaments and most commonly the injury occurs in the ankles. The ligaments are a kind of wide bands that connect the bones with the joints and allow movements. The ankle ligaments are very exposed to these tears or about stretching that gives rise to annoying injuries that, if they do not heal properly, can leave sequels for life.

Normally they are usually minor injuries that are recovered with physiotherapy, rest, ice and compression, but sometimes they are not so minor. It depends on the severity of the injury, so will be the pain. In some cases it only hurts to the touch, which leads the patient to believe that it is nonsense and does not visit a specialist. A serious mistake that ends up taking its toll.


The main causes of ligament sprains are from everyday activities. It is that even going down a step with a lot of weight can cause that injury. As we say, the ankles are very delicate and highly exposed areas.

Let’s review the main causes of ankle sprains where the ligaments are affected:

  • Walking on an uneven surface.
  • Walk in heels.
  • Go down steps
  • Improper footwear.
  • fall on foot
  • Poor support on soft surfaces like a trampoline.
  • Sharp turns.
  • Hit something heavy.
  • tread badly
  • Bad tread when exercising.

Certain risk factors also come into play that make this type of injury more prone. For example, the conditions of the terrain, that is, an uneven area, with many stones, a slippery surface, etc. Another clear risk factor is poor equipment, that is, shoes that are too big for us, or very narrow, or very short and do not protect the ankle, etc.

Excessive exercise also causes sprains, for example, the muscular fatigue It leads us to have silly injuries that end up in serious things like torn ligaments. This is due to poor joint support, that is, if we are exhausted and push our body to the limit, the tendons, muscles, joints and such take a toll on the bottom line.


The symptoms of a sprain are very clear, but we repeat that not all of us reproduce an injury in the same way. That is, two people can have the same ankle ligament sprain, and one can not even support the foot and have it swollen and the other person can even run.

  • Pain when stepping.
  • Pain to touch.
  • Pain when moving the ankle.
  • Aching and discomfort when performing mild exercises, such as putting on a sock, walking, or putting the foot in a tight shoe.
  • Swelling.
  • bruise
  • Feel it beat
  • Limited movements of the joint.
  • Having heard a crack at the time of the injury.
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We should consult a doctor in any of these situations, even if the pain to the touch is very slight, since a poorly healed injury takes its toll later. Above all, when it comes to ligaments and the ankle. If we have a physiotherapist at hand, he, with a physical assessment, can clear us up of doubts, but it is best to go directly to a traumatologist.

Diagnosis and treatment

If we have detected the injury, and we go to a doctor, it is quite likely that the professional will ask for a specific test such as x-ray or CT. The professional we must go to must be orthopedics, physiotherapist or traumatology. The best thing is to go to a traumatologist so as not to have to go around so much, and he will be the one who will later redirect us to physiotherapy sessions if he sees it necessary in our case.

The most normal thing is that between the symptoms that we declare and the physical examination, the doctor already has a clear diagnosis, even so, to assess the extent of the injury, X-rays and other tests are usually requested, only in this way can breakages, other muscle damage, damaged tendons, fluid outside the joint, pieces of bone, etc.

The most common treatments for a ligament sprain are usually rest, applying ice, applying a compression bandage and keeping the leg elevated to achieve effective drainage. There are also other treatments such as physiotherapywhich is usually of vital importance to recover 100%.

How to prevent

As prevention, the only thing we have to say is that we do not make the mistakes that we have in the causes section. That is, avoid running if it hurts; wear the right shoes for each activity; protect our ankles if the activity requires it; descend steps carefully; do not walk on slippery or unstable surfaces; don’t jump too much or don’t do it with extra weight; etc.

The truth is that there is no miraculous method to prevent sprains beyond everything we have said and not wearing heels, always stretching before and after exercising, not playing sports that exceed our capabilities, etc. But the most important thing is to strengthen the area.

A physiotherapist or gym trainer can tell us how to strengthen the muscles of the ankles and calves to avoid sprains, and if they do arise, they should be so minor that we do not feel consequences.