Diagnosis

During a physical, your doctor will examine your ankle, foot and lower leg. The doctor will touch the skin around the injury to check for points of tenderness and move your foot to check the range of motion and to understand what positions cause discomfort or pain.

If the injury is severe, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following imaging scans to rule out a broken bone or to evaluate in more detail the extent of ligament damage:

  • X-ray. During an X-ray, a small amount of radiation passes through your body to produce images of the bones of the ankle. This test is good for ruling out bone fractures.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRIs use radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce detailed cross-sectional or 3-D images of soft internal structures of the ankle, including ligaments.
  • CT scan. CT scans can reveal more detail about the bones of the joint. CT scans take X-rays from many different angles and combine them to make cross-sectional or 3-D images.
  • Ultrasound. An ultrasound uses radio waves to produce real-time images. These images may help your doctor judge the condition of a ligament or tendon when the foot is in different positions.