Ankle injuries are frequently thought of as sports injuries, but you don’t have to be a collegiate or professional athlete to suffer from an ankle sprain. You don’t even have to be a “weekend warrior” to twist or turn and injure your ankle. That’s right. It can be something as unfortunate as missing a step when walking down a flight of stairs or twisting an ankle while wearing heels on a girls’ night out.
So yes, ankle sprains can happen with daily activities or while playing a pickup game of basketball. Ankle injuries occur daily, and more than 1 million people visit emergency rooms each year for these issues.
This post looks at the different types and grades of ankle sprains, how to minimize further injury, and how Yeargain Foot & Ankle can help you heal.
Types of Ankle Sprains
An ankle sprain occurs when you roll, turn, or twist your ankle, causing a stretch or tear to the tough bands of tissues that connect the bones of your ankle called ligaments. These ligaments function to stabilize your ankle joint and limit or prevent excessive motion. Some ankle sprains can be much worse than others. The severity typically depends on whether an ankle ligament is stretched, partially torn, or completely torn.
The majority of ankle sprains involve the ankle ligaments on the outer side of your ankle and are called inversion ankle sprains. This happens when your foot and ankle rotate or turn inwards during the event causing the injury. Inversion ankle sprains account for nearly 90% of ankle sprains.
Eversion ankle sprains are the opposite mechanism of action and occur when your foot and ankle rotates or turns outwards. This is the least common type since the ankle ligaments on the inside of your ankle are inherently thicker and more robust than the outside ligament.
Syndesmotic Ankle Sprain
Occasionally, you can have what’s called a high ankle or syndesmotic ankle sprain, which involves the ligaments holding your two leg bones together on the top of your ankle.
Grades of Ankle Sprains
These grades help healthcare professionals determine the severity of your ankle sprains:
- Grade 1 (Mild): Slight stretching and some micro-tearing of ligaments. Swelling and tenderness will occur around the ankle. This grade of injury will typically heal with minimal intervention.
- Grade 2 (Moderate): This is the most common grade of sprain. Partial tearing of the ligament occurs and leads to moderate swelling, tenderness, and walking may be difficult. This type of sprain can take well over a month to heal and usually require a foot and ankle specialist evaluation and treatment.
- Grade 3 (Severe): The pain is severe due to a fully torn or ruptured ligament. Some patients say they experience a popping sound when the injury occurs, followed by massive swelling and bruising. Pressure usually can’t be applied to the ankle, making it impossible to walk. Surgery is typically required to repair the torn ligament and make the joint stable again.
Steps to Minimize Further Injury
Rest, ice, compression, and elevation are the first steps you should take. We call this RICE protocol.
- Rest is highly recommended, including a period of immobilization for moderate to severe ankle injuries, considering how painful it can be to walk.
- Icing the ankle with an ice pack for 15-20 minutes at least twice a day will decrease swelling and pain.
- Compression wrap such as an ace bandage, compression stocking, or ankle sleeve can help control swelling and pain that occurs shortly after an ankle injury (these products are available in our office at your first visit).
- Elevation of the affected leg is a vital step in controlling the swelling around the ankle. NSAIDS such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen or Tylenol can be used to control your pain.
Promptly seeing a foot and ankle specialist will help further minimize your injury.
The Road to Recovery
Every ankle injury is different and proper evaluation is required to expedite the healing process. On average, ankle sprains can take 4-6 weeks to heal, depending on the injury’s severity. This includes following our RICE method along with functional rehabilitation.
Severe ankle sprains can take months to heal and typically require advanced imaging (MRI, CT scan) if concerned for a tear or complete rupture of an ankle ligament. When this occurs, surgery is warranted to stabilize the ankle joint.
Our Process at YF&A
- Upon your first visit, x-rays will be performed and the results presented and discussed shortly after. We have a state-of-the-art x-ray machine that provides real-time results so we can rule out a fracture.
- We will provide you with resources such as handouts to explain how to care for your ankle sprain.
- We also have a wide variety of ankle braces and removable walking cast or boots on offer in the office.
- We work closely with many physical therapists in the area, and PT may be required, especially for recurrent ankle sprains.
- With severe ankle sprains, your injury may require additional imaging to evaluate for a torn or ruptured ligament such as MRI. It may even require surgery to repair and re-stabilize the ankle.
- We also can provide 3D scanned custom orthotics to help prevent ankle sprains after an injury has healed.
- If you experience recurrent ankle sprains due to your ankle always wanting to twist or “give out,” custom orthotics with supportive shoes can help.
Contact Us Today
If you are suffering from an ankle sprain, don’t delay; book an appointment with Yeargain Foot & Ankle today. Dr. Yeargain and Dr. Agyen will put you on the path to recovery as soon as possible. To book an appointment, call (214) 824-3851 or book an appointment via our contact page.
We look forward to treating you. You’ll find Yeargain Foot & Ankle at 3801 Gaston Ave. Suite 330 across the street from the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.