Your ankle is an incredibly stable joint, which is very helpful considering it is tasked with helping to support your body weight and maintain your balance as you stand, walk and run. However, the joint is not impervious to injury, and if it is overloaded with stress, your ankle can roll or sprain. Tens of thousands of people sprain their ankles every day, and no two ankle injuries are ever the same. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the two main types of ankle sprains – inversion and eversion sprains – and we discuss the typical care procedures for each.
Inversion Vs. Eversion Ankle Sprain
When you sprain your ankle, it’s because the ankle rolled in one of two directions. Either your foot rolls inwardly towards your body, or your foot rolls outwardly, away from your body. These two movements will damage different areas of your ankle and lead to the need for slightly different types of treatment. Let’s take a closer look at each:
- Inversion Sprain – Let’s begin by taking a closer look at the more common of the two injuries – the inversion sprain. An inversion ankle sprain occurs when your foot rolls inwardly towards your body. During this type of sprain, the ligaments on the outside of your ankle joint are stretched and damaged. The most commonly affected ligaments are the lateral ligaments on the outside of the ankle joint, like the anterior talofibular ligament, the calcaneofibular ligaments and the posterior talofibular ligament. And while there can be varying degrees of inversion ankle sprains, these types of sprains are generally less severe than eversion sprains.
- Eversion Sprain – Conversely, an eversion ankle sprain occurs when your ankle rolls outwardly and away from your body. These types of sprains are more rare because they occur when the more stable and naturally protected deltoid ligaments on the inside of your ankle joint are overstretched. When these stronger and thicker ligaments are injured, it can lead to decreased ankle stability and a longer recovery time to recoup this strength and stability.
Both types of ankle sprains can be graded on the standard three-point scale. Grade I ankle sprains are considered the least severe and Grade III sprains present with significant dysfunction of the ankle joint. Here’s a more specific breakdown of the three grades of ankle sprains:
- Grade I – Minor tearing or overstretching of the ankle ligaments, leading to mild discomfort and symptoms like swelling or inhibited gait.
- Grade II – Partial tearing of the supportive ankle ligaments, leading to more moderate symptoms like pain and difficulty bearing weight on the foot.
- Grade III – A complete tear of one or more of the supportive ankle ligaments, leading to significant pain and ankle dysfunction
Despite their grade, most inversion and eversion ankle sprains are treated with non-operative techniques. Rest, activity modification, bracing and anti-inflammatory medications are early interventions that will eventually give way to more active treatments like physical therapy, stretching and limited weight bearing exercise. Most patients will see significant improvement in their ankle function when pursuing conservative care for at least a few weeks, but your foot specialist will also want to pay close attention to how much stability is returning to the ankle. While pain may subside, if you don’t help these ankle ligaments regain strength and stability, you’ll be at an increased risk for future sprains and even a potential fracture. If there is concern over the stability being provided by your ankle joints, a minimally invasive procedure to restabilize the ligaments can work wonders, especially for individuals hoping to return to athletics or high impact activities.
Dr. McDonald and his team are well-versed in treating all types and grades of ankle sprains, so let us help you return to full strength after an ankle sprain. Don’t let symptoms linger and leave you at an increased risk for a future injury. Instead, proactively treat your inversion or eversion ankle sprain so that you can get back to doing all the activities you love with full confidence in your ankle. For more information, or for help with a different foot or ankle issue, reach out to Dr. McDonald and his team today at (860) 244-8889.