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Lateral ankle injury

The lateral ligament complex of the ankle is the most commonly injured set of ligaments in the body. It is situated on the outside aspect of the ankle, running from the ankle bone and fanning downwards to attach onto the foot. Like all ligaments, it’s purpose is to act like a seatbelt, preventing excess movement at the joint. It is put under tension and therefore mostly likely to be injured when you roll your ankle inwards.

Thankfully, this set of ligaments have excellent healing potential and almost always heal back strongly with no need for surgery or other interventions. It has an excellent blood supply and excellent nerve supply which both assist in it’s ability to heal quickly.

Unfortunately, these characteristics also mean that an ankle ligament injury also commonly involves significant swelling and discomfort. You may also experience significant bruising which may appear in the same place as the pain but may also be some distance from the injury – either near the bottom of the foot or higher up the calf. This is normal and more related to the position that it has been kept in.

When to seek advice

If you have severe pain affecting your sleep and daily activities, if you have had a serious injury or you have symptoms that have not improved with self-management, you should contact your GP practice. If you have a red, hot swollen joint please ring 111