An ankle sprain is one of the injuries of the ankle joint. There has been erroneous believe that only active people are susceptible to this injury, but that is far from the truth.
Active folks, though, are more prone to sustaining ankle sprain, but the truth is that anyone can be affected with this unfortunate injury to the ankle.
Taking a critical look at some sports where the players have to jump and land heavily on their feet or make several runs of different intensity, this makes them more prone to having an ankle sprain.
An ankle sprain is that unfortunate ankle injury that occurs when you twist, turn or move your ankle in such a way that too much stress is put on the ligament, causing the ligament to tear or stressed.
A ligament is the bands of tissue that hold the ankle bones and other ankle components together and in their rightful position. The main work of ligament is to keep the ankle in place and maintain healthy movement of the ankle joint. Therefore, an ankle sprain occurs when this ligament is stretch beyond its reasonable limit, which is why ankle sprain is very common among the active people.
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Types of Ankle Sprain
There are two types of ankle sprain
The Inversion Ankle Sprain
The inversion ankle sprain occurs when the ankle or the foot turns inwardly in an unusual way, thereby stretching the outer ligament. An inversion ankle sprain is very common, and the lateral ligament is the damaged ligament in an inversion ankle sprain.
The lateral ligaments are outside the ankle joint, and these ligaments consist of talofibular (ATFL), calcaneofibular (CFL), and the posterior talofibular ligaments (PTFL). The severity of the inversion ankle sprain will significantly depend on which of these ligaments are affected.
The most common one is the ATFL and not always complex though it still causes ankle instability. The more noticeable one is the one that affects both AFL and CFL.
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The Eversion Ankle Sprain
The eversion ankle sprain occurs when the ankle or the foot turns outwardly in an abnormal manner, thereby overstretching the inner ligament.
An eversion ankle sprain is not so common as the inversion. The inner ligaments, also are known as the medial ligaments, are inside the ankle, and they consist of the tibiotalar ligament, the tibiocalcaneal ligament, and the tibionavicular ligament. They are altogether referred to as deltoid ligament.
An eversion ankle sprain is very rare because the fibula bone tends to prevent the ankle from moving to the extent of stretching the deltoid ligament. Also, deltoid ligaments are far stronger than the outside ligament making it difficult to injure them.
Symptoms of Ankle Sprain
The signs and symptoms will depend on how severe the ankle sprain is. The following symptoms are very common to foot injury:
There will be inflammation around the affected part. The affected body part will appear bigger (swelling) due to inflammation or build-up of fluid.
You will feel pains and how excruciating the pain is might be the sign of how severe the injury is.
This is the type of pain you feel when the affected area is touched, and it is one of the most significant symptoms of an ankle injury.
The inability to put your weight on the affected foot/ankle is also a symptom of the injury.
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This is you not being able to move the ankle. The joint is fixed in one place, and any attempt to force the movement will result in even more pain.
Some marks are visible in the affected area. The Skin can also look pale.
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Degrees of Ankle Sprain
The degree of an ankle sprain is dependent on the severity. In general, we have three degrees.
Grade One Ankle Sprain
This occurs when there is a slight or minor tear in the ligament. The pain associated with this is always minimal, and the victim can still walk with the affected foot. There will also be slight tenderness, swelling, and stiffness of the hurt ankle.
Grade Two Ankle Sprain
This is more severe than grade one sprain and more painful. In this, the ligament is torn but not entirely; that is, you have a partial tear in the ligament. You will not be able to put your full weight on it, though you might still be stable. There will be pains, swelling, and tenderness of the affected ankle.
Grade Three Ankle Sprain
This involves a complete tear of the ligament. It is the most complex and severe among the three degrees of an ankle sprain. It comes with the most excruciating pain, swelling, bruising, and you will not be able to place your body weight on it.
How to reduce the risk of getting an ankle sprain
There are some preventive measures you can take to reduce your chance of getting an ankle sprain. Though ankle sprain can still occur at any moment depending on the activities, you engage in, but some simple measures can reduce the risk to the barest minimum.
It has been proven that warming up with slight and less rigorous exercise can reduce your risk of getting injured in the main event. Before you starting those rigorous activities, you can do some light exercise that will put your body in an active position. The muscles, ligaments, and other ankle components are warmed up and ready for the main activities.
Wear the Right Boot
The shoe you wear can be a determinant as well in getting an ankle sprain. Research has shown that the type of shoe you wear can place your foot in a position that makes you hurt your ligament, leading to the injury.
If you are an athlete, you must speak to your fitness coach or physiotherapist for better advice on the best footwear to get for the sport.
Get an Ankle Stabilizer/Support
Getting the best ankle brace for ankle stability is also a proven method of limiting the chance of injuring your ankle. Ankle brace gives the best support and protection to the ankle joint. They prevent inversion and eversion movement of the foot that could lead to ankle injuries such as ankle sprain.
Ankle stabilizers are mainly for two things; they can be used for the rehabilitation process, an ankle injury, and prevention of ankle injuries. Our article on the best ankle brace for sprain gives some suggestions of ankle brace that could help prevent and aid recovery of an ankle sprain. Our article on the best walking ankle brace and boot for Achilles tendonitis is also a good read if you are dealing with Achilles tendonitis.
So many athletes rely on ankle brace for protection against ankle injuries as it helps stabilize their feet during these rigorous activities that can lead to an ankle sprain. Our article on best ankle brace for running suggests ankle braces a runner can get while the best ankle brace for basketball and volleyball is a good read as well.
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Avoid Sudden Change in the Intensity of an activity
This is undoubtedly one of the reasons you get your ankle sprained. It is better to increase the intensity gradually than do it suddenly, which stresses the ligament and tendon, hence, causing an ankle injury.
Causes of Ankle Sprain
There are few situations or factors that lead to an ankle sprain. Still, it is more common among athletes and other sporting activities like volleyball, basketball, football, running, hiking, among others.
- Terrible fall that can cause your ankle to twist
- Walking, running, jogging or exercising on uneven surfaces
- Jumping and landing awkwardly
- Other people stepping on your foot
- Genetics – if it’s easier to turn your ankle inward
- If you have sustained ankle sprain before, it is easier to have it again.
Essential Recovery Tips for an Ankle Sprain
When you sustain an ankle injury, and you think it’s an ankle sprain through the symptoms you are experiencing, you do not need to freak out, especially if it’s not a severe injury. Trying the following tips can help you recover within a short time.
This means Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate (RICE). The first thing to do is to stop whatever activities you are doing when this incidence occurs.
Then, ice should be immediately applied twice in a day for about 30 minutes. This will help reduce swelling. Compression can be done with an ankle brace or a compression sleeve. We recommend both; in a situation, you wear the ankle compression sleeve underneath the ankle brace. Doing this gives you both stability and proper compression to the affected ankle.
The ankle can then be elevated above the chest region for 48 hours. Lastly, you need to stop all activities that can aggravate the injury, which means proper and quality rest.
RICE method is quite simple, and your physiotherapist can take you through the process
This is applicable to grade three ankle sprains. Your doctor might need to immobilize your ankle joint with ankle cast, some rigid ankle brace can also be used and ankle brace with splints. It all depends on the severity of the injury.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it OK to walk on a sprained ankle?
This depends on the severity of the ankle sprain. If you can walk with it immediately, it’s very much likely you have only stretched your ligament a little, and no significant damage has occurred. But for some complex situations like grade three ankle sprain, you will be unable to place your body weight on it not to talk of walking with the sprained ankle.
How do I know if I sprained my ankle?
Though the symptoms we discussed above will give you hints, but they are not the actual test to confirm an ankle sprain, as so many other ankle injuries have the same symptoms. The best way to know is to visit your doctor who will run some tests to confirm if you have genuinely sprained your ankle or it’s some other ankle injury.
How long does it usually take for a sprained ankle to heal?
This depends on how severe the injury is. Nevertheless, you should be able to heal up within six to eight weeks if proper rehabilitation process is followed.
Should you wrap a sprained ankle overnight?
This is more helpful in reducing swelling and inflammation. You can make use of bandage or compression sleeve to achieve this. Once swelling stops, there is no need to wrap your sprained ankle overnight anymore. While sleeping, you can raise the injured ankle a little by placing it on a pillow.
What is the difference between a sprain and a strain?
A sprain affects the ligament, that is, the bands of tissue that connect two bones while strain only affect the muscle or the band of tissue that attach a muscle to a bone.
Should I go to the hospital for a sprained ankle?
Yes, especially when the pain is becoming too severe.
What happens if you leave a sprained ankle untreated?
The sprain gets deteriorated, and the pain becomes more intense. This may lead to ankle instability, and it can also damage the joint, thereby leading to arthritis.
Since ankle sprain is common, it gets overlooked, but it can be painful and, if not treated, can lead to something worse.
Some medications can help with the pain. This is why visiting your doctor might be a good thing for you to do. They will rightly diagnose and prescribe the best treatment.