ASK THE EXPERT: Dr. Kennedy Answers Your Questions About High Ankle Sprains

Q: How is a high ankle sprain different from other ankle sprains?

A high ankle sprain is an injury to the ligament group that helps hold the tibia and the fibula together, while a “normal” ankle sprain is an injury to the ligament complex that stops you from rolling over on your ankle. Unfortunately, high ankle sprains take longer to heal compared to “normal” ankle sprains.

Q: Is there a brace I can wear to help prevent a high ankle sprain from happening?

A healthy athlete should avoid wearing a brace to prevent a high ankle sprain as prolonged brace use can cause loss or of proprioception. Proprioception is the innate ability of your body to know where your joint is in space. Decreased proprioception may predispose an athlete to ankle sprains.

Q: What sports put me at risk for a high ankle sprain?

Sports that may put an athlete at risk of a high ankle sprain are those that involve a rapid change in direction, otherwise known as cutting. Football and hockey are two such sports, but by no means the only ones.

Q: How long is the recovery time for a high ankle sprain?

It depends on the severity of the sprain, however a good guide is that high ankle sprains take at least twice as long to recover from as a “normal” ankle sprain.

Q: If I sprain my ankle, how can I tell what kind of sprain it is?

If you have sprained your ankle, it can be very difficult to determine what type of sprain it is without advanced diagnostic imaging. A good tip to remember however is that most ankle sprains resolve on their own. If it has been over 2 weeks since you sprained your ankle and you continue to experience pain, it is a good idea to see an orthopaedic specialist.

Dr. John Kennedy specializes in osteochondral injuries, Achilles tendon injuries, ankle instability, and ligament reconstruction and has a primary interest in lower limb surgery, particularly sports-related injuries. He is currently the clinical director of the Running Clinic at Hospital for Special Surgery.

The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.


  1. QUESTION PLEASE HELP?? After surgery peroneus brevis tendon repair swollen is normal for how long? is be already 12 weeks after surgery and still have a lot swollen on my ankle after walking or standing for long periods ??? is than normal ?

    1. Hi Andres, thank you for reaching out. Dr. John Kennedy, Orthopedic Surgeon, says: “Yes, this can be normal. To assess if the tendon has started to heal, an ultrasound should be performed. The lateral side of the ankle is probably best seen with a dynamic ultrasound rather than an MRI. It is best to get back to your surgeon and have a proper clinical evaluation. That’s the best diagnostic test of all.” If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  2. I sprained my ankle and went to the doctor on Octgober 20th. He told me to use ice for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off several times a day. It did help but I don’t know if Ishould continue to use ice or use heat. Ankle is still swolen and hurts and its been 7 days now since I hurt it. What should I do now.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Patricia, thank you for reaching out. Dr. John Kennedy, Orthopedic Surgeon, says: “If the ankle is still swollen and painful after one week, that is unusual. You really need a further clinical evaluation and possible MRI to rule out associated injuries to the cartilage in the joint.” If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  3. Most ankle sprains happen when you make a rapid shifting movement with your foot planted, such as when you play soccer or get tackled in football. Often the ankle rolls outward and the foot turns inward. This causes the ligaments on the outside of the ankle to stretch and tear. Less often, the ankle rolls inward and the foot turns outward. This damages the ligaments on the inside of the ankle. See a picture of the different types of ankle sprains.

If you’d like to consider HSS for treatment, please contact our Patient Referral Service at 888-720-1982. For general questions and comments, reach us on Facebook or Twitter.