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Pregnancy: Close look on ankle strains

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Ankle strains not as prevalent as sprains, but these injuries usually have similar symptoms and treatment measures. A doctor should be consulted so that a proper diagnosis can be reached and start the appropriate treatment. The inflammation or swelling of the ankles during pregnancy is a typical issue but if the pain is present on one ankle and evident while walking or standing, it often indicates an injury from ankle strains or sprains.

How to identify ankle sprains

Pain is usually present in ankle sprains and there is difficulty in bearing weight on the involved leg. A strain can lead to weakening and jerking of the muscles, thus the ankle might give out while walking especially while supporting added weight later in pregnancy.

In most cases, there is often limited movement of the ankle and tightness within the surrounding muscles and tendons. If the strain is actually a sprain, the symptoms are quite similar but swelling and bruising might be present as well.

What are the possible causes?

Ankle sprains develop once a tendon or muscle is overly stretched. In severe cases, the tendon or muscle is fully torn which triggers intense pain. A strain is prevalent during pregnancy since the body generates the hormone relaxin which increases the pliability of the ligaments and muscles.

Ankle strains
A strain can lead to weakening and jerking of the muscles, thus the ankle might give out while walking especially while supporting added weight later in pregnancy.

The production and relaxin, weight gain and the shift in gravity increases the risk for injury. Ankle sprains while pregnant can be triggered by an injury such as a fall or stepping on uneven surfaces. The stress on the muscle can also lead to a strain which can develop as the belly grows bigger especially those who spend long hours on the feet throughout the day. A sprained ankle develops once a ligament is overly stretched out beyond its normal limits as the feet turns, rolls or twists beyond its normal limits.

Management for sprained ankle

It is vital to allow the affected ankle to rest for 48 hours and apply an ice pack 20 minutes at a time at least 4 times throughout the day. The ankle should be elevated above the level of the heart during the initial days to minimize the swelling. An elastic bandage or splint can be used to compress and stabilize the affected ankle until it heals. These are the measures to perform if the strain is actually a sprained ankle.

As for cases in which the pain is severe, the doctor might recommend over-the-counter pain medications. Acetaminophen is considered safe if used for short periods. Take note that ibuprofen is known to harm the fetus especially if used during the last 3 months of pregnancy. In case a ligament, muscle or tendon is fully torn and triggers intense pain, surgery is oftentimes the last solution even during pregnancy.


It is important to note that relaxin prepares the body for childbirth, thus there is no way to reduce or prevent how this hormone relaxes the muscles, but there are measures that must be taken to avoid any injuries.

Exercise is highly beneficial if the woman has a healthy pregnancy and the doctor has permitted physical activity, but activities such as jogging, running, dancing, cycling and hiking increases the risk for damage to the ankle. In addition, avoid using high-heels and wear shoes that provides adequate support and comfortable.

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