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Signs of a Torn Ligament in the Ankle

author image Richard Nilsen
Richard Nilsen writes poetry, fiction, features and news stories in upstate New York. He was an emergency mental-health consultant for 20 years and directed a mentoring agency for a decade. Nilsen is a black-fly control technician in the Adirondack Park, where he enjoys hiking, biking and boating.
Signs of a Torn Ligament in the Ankle
Signs of a Torn Ligament in the Ankle

Ligaments are the connective tissues which hold bones and joints together. If they are over-extended, twisted or otherwise stressed and stretched beyond normal range of motion, a sprain occurs. Since all the body’s weight is supported by the foot and ankle, ankle ligament injuries are the most common. In a mild or medium sprain, ligaments are stretched but not torn. A severe sprain involves a tearing of the ligaments. Unattended torn ligaments may not heal properly and may lead to arthritis, so you should seek medical attention for a severe sprain. R.I.C.E. therapy (rest, ice, compression and elevation) is the first step to recovery in order to prevent further injury and reduce swelling. Common ankle ligaments involved in sports injuries are the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) and the calcaneofibular ligament (CFL), according to the Southwest Orthopaedic Surgery website.

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The immediate symptom of a torn ligament in the ankle is pain. It can be hard to judge by the amount of pain whether the patient has a mild sprain or extreme ligament tear. If she has had previous sprains, she can use them to compare the amount of pain.


A torn ligament causes interior bleeding which makes the ankle swell and feel tender to the touch. More swelling generally indicates more damage.


The interior bleeding which causes swelling also discolors the ankle joint. a wider area of bruising usually means more tearing.


It is difficult to move a sprained ankle or place weight on it. Any movement or weight-bearing effort will cause more pain.


If ankle ligaments are severely torn, the ankle is not only swollen and stiff, it feels unstable, making the patient feel that even if he could bear the pain of standing, he would fall.

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