General Information

A high ankle sprain is an injury to the ligament of the ankle syndesmosis. The syndesmosis connects the two bones of the lower leg, the tibia and fibula.

The ankle joint is comprised of three bones: the tibia, the fibula and the talus. The joint is stabilised by ligaments joining the tibia and fibula (the anterior inferior tibiofibular ligament and the interosseous ligaments, or syndesmosis).


  • Most commonly caused by the ankle being forced upward and outward
  • It can also occur when the ankle is forced to turn inwards

What do I feel?

  • Pain on the outside of the ankle
  • Pain with moving the ankle
  • Pain with walking
  • Swelling and bruising around the ankle

What can I do?

  • Relative rest – reduce the amount of painful activity, but aim to continue with normal movement and non-painful activity
  • Ice the area of pain on the ankle for 20 minutes at a time, 3-4 times per day for the first 2 days following the injury. Have some cloth between the ice pack and skin to avoid ice burn
  • Elevate the leg
  • See a physiotherapist for advice on rehabilitation
  • A brace to stabilise the ankle while healing can be helpful but is not essential

The ankle will take a while to heal, but be patient, continue to do your exercises, and follow guidance from your physiotherapist. Return to full sport is usually one to four months depending on the severity of the sprain.