Different Types Of Ankle Sprains, Symptoms & Treatment Options
An ankle sprain is an injury that results from the twisting or rolling of the ankle in the wrong manner. Inappropriate movement of the ankle can allow the tough bands of fibrous tissues -- which we call ligaments – that hold the anklebone in place, to experience wear and tear due to the excessive movement. This causes the ligaments to move beyond their range of motion. Most ankle sprains occur when the ligaments on the outer side of the injured ankle are affected.
Identifying The Type Of Ankle Sprain
The 2 common types of ankle strains are inversion and eversion ankle sprains.
- Inversion sprain: This is the most common out of the three and typically occurs due to the outward rolling of the ankle and the inward turning of the foot. As a result, the outer ligaments (lateral ligament) of the ankle are stretched and torn.
Eversion sprain: Sometimes the ankle may roll inward and the foot may turn outward causing an eversion injury. An eversion injury damages the inner ligaments (medial ligament) of the ankle.
The severity of an ankle sprain can be divided into three:
Grade I sprain: This is very mild and no disability occurs. You can perform daily life activities. The injury usually takes 2 to 3 weeks to recover.
Grade II sprain: This is a moderate injury that may cause discomfort. Activities such as twisting of the ankle may have to be limited. The injury takes 3 to 6 weeks to recover.
- Grade III sprain: This is a very severe injury that may cause a lot of discomfort and pain. The injury may take 3 months to heal.
Causes Of Ankle Sprains
Ankle sprains occur when a movement forces the ankle to budge from its original position, causing one or more ligaments to stretch or tear.
The following are some circumstances that may trigger an ankle sprain:
- Landing incorrectly on the foot after jumping
- Walking or running on uneven surfaces
- A fall that may cause the ankle to twist
Signs and symptoms
Signs and symptoms of an ankle sprain include:
- Pain and swelling while performing weight bearing activities
- Restricted range of motion
- A ‘pop’ or snap sound upon the onset of the injury
Treatment for ankle sprain normally depends on how severe the damage is. Conservative treatment methods and over-the counter medication may be sufficient to allow symptoms to subside, however, a medical evaluation is required to determine how severe the injury is.
Conservative treatment primarily involves the RICE treatment:
- Rest: It is important to avoid any type of physical activity that may trigger symptoms such as pain or swelling. However, it is recommended that you do not avoid all types of activity. Your foot requires enough rest to alleviate symptoms, but you can still exercise other muscles of your body to prevent de-conditioning. You can perform low-impact activities such as swimming or cycling that involve movement of the arm and the unaffected leg.
Ice: Prior to seeking medical help, it is important that you apply an ice pack right after the injury. Do this for 20 minutes, every 2 to 3 hours of the day. Cold compresses help in reducing pain, swelling and inflammation of the joint. If you have a chronic condition such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, speak with your doctor before applying ice.
Compression: Compress the affected ankle with an elastic band to reduce swelling. You can also consider taping for the same purpose. Compression works by reducing the weight on the ankle so that it is effectively mobilized. Avoid wrapping the ankle too tightly as this may reduce circulation. Loosen the wrapping if you feel any pain or numbness of the foot. For mild to moderate ankle sprains, experts recommend using the McDavid Elastic Knee Sleeve 511 as it provides relief from symptoms. Whereas, for more severe injuries or grade III sprains, the McDavid Ultralight Laced Ankle Brace A195 that will prevent greater support and prevention of ankle rolling and recurrence of injury is more suitable.
- Elevation: Keep the ankle elevated above heart level while you rest to encourage circulation and diminish swelling.
Other treatment measures include:
Medication: Over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may relieve symptoms.
Physical therapy: You may be instructed to perform range of motion, strength, balance and flexibility exercises by your physical therapist.
- Surgery: if the ankle joint remains unstable, you may go through further medical examination. However, severe ligament tears that require surgery are very rare. In any case, you may be required to wear a cast or walking boot until your joint heals completely.