Experts estimate that there are roughly one million ankle injuries that occur each year, and out of that number, over 85% of them are an ankle sprain. While these painful injuries are commonly sports-related, no one is immune to them. A simple wrong step can result in crippling pain and may have you off your feet for weeks.
What causes an ankle sprain?
Like any other part of your body, these ligaments have a specific range of motion. When they are forced to stretch beyond their typical range, they can pull or tear, resulting in a sprain.
Are there different types of ankle sprains?
Before you can identify a sprain, it’s important to understand the anatomy of your ankles.
You may not realize it, but your ankle is made up of 14 different bones. All these little bones are held together by short bands of connective tissue called ligaments. These tissues play a vital role in keeping you stable and balanced when walking, running, and standing.
There are two common types of ankle sprains. The most common of the two is known as an inversion sprain. When you hear someone say that they rolled their ankle, this is more than likely an inversion sprain. This type of sprain affects the lateral ligament (the one on the outside of the ankle). It’s caused by your foot rolling inwards toward the other foot.
Eversion sprains are very similar to inversion sprains, except they affect the medial ligament (the one on the inside of the ankle), and are usually caused by the foot rolling outwards. These sprains are less common but, depending on the severity, can be more painful and take much longer to heal.
Regardless of the type of sprain, Tenderness, bruising, and swelling are often the first symptoms. You can also expect to experience a wide range of other sensations ranging from a dull ache to sharp, shooting pains.
Treatment and Prevention
While it’s impossible to predict when these painful injuries will happen, there are steps that you can take to reduce the likelihood of a sprain.
- Stretch before and after exercise
- Wear appropriate shoes for the activity
- Perform balance and ankle strengthening exercises often
Treatment: While it’s easy to dismiss an ankle sprain as a minor occurrence, it’s always a good idea to seek medical attention to establish a recovery plan. A severe sprain, if left untreated, can cause the bones and ligaments in your ankle to gradually weaken, making them more susceptible to further injury down the line.
Along with rest and icing, your podiatrist may prescribe you medication to help reduce the levels of pain and swelling. If serious tendon damage has occurred, intense action in the form of corrective surgery may be required.
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