Ankle sprains are common among all individuals, and can happen at a moment’s notice. Something as simple as stepping wrong and rolling your ankle, stepping off of a curb, landing wrong after going up for a layup or block.
So what it’s a sprain?
A sprain occurs when a ligament, the fibrous tissue that connects bone to bone in a joint, is stretched beyond its normal capacity and is damaged. They can vary in severity, pain and function.
We have already talked about the different types of severity of sprains here: https://www.kcbj.com/whats-behind-the-term-sprain/
Lateral ankle sprain (most common)
So what do you do when you roll your ankle in? It’s called a lateral Ankle Sprain, which is by far the most common of ankle sprains out there. A lateral ankle sprain happens when you stretch the ligaments on the outside of your ankle. Typically, the ligaments of the ankle are injured when you turn your foot inwards with force. Common ways for this to happen are when you step off a curb funny with your toes turned inward, stepping on someone’s foot when landing from a jump (during sports), or slipping off of a step.
High ankle sprain
The next most common ankle sprain is the High (Syndesmotic) Ankle Sprain. These injuries feel like they take a bit more the recover from. Possibly due to the nature of these injuries which are more commonly seen in those with high intensity lifestyles, such as athletes.
This type of ankle sprain is caused by an outward twisting of the foot and ankle. Common ways to sprain this ligament involve side-to-side running, starting and stopping your feet repetitively, or turning while in motion.
Medial ankle sprain (least common)
The least common ankle sprain is the medial ankle sprain. This is a pretty uncommon injury because the medial (inner) ligaments of the ankle form a wide, thick protective bundle over the ankle joint and is pretty structurally strong. Powerful eversion (turning outward of the foot) is the reason for this injury.
How Do I Know I Have a Sprain?
A good rule of thumb is pain and point tenderness over the affected area. Typically, pain will either be on the inside of the ankle or the outside. There may be discomfort with walking or standing on that foot. Some more people might also experience bruising or swelling in the foot or ankle following a sprain. More extreme cases may involve hearing a ‘pop’ in the ankle during the actual injury. If this happens, you should make an appointment with your doctor.
Can I Treat This At Home?
There are a couple really easy things you can do on your home to help speed up your recovery time and get you back to normal faster. As with a lot of other injuries, just remember to RICE!
Rest your ankle and use Ice for 20 minutes every hour to reduce swelling, Compress the ankle with an ace bandage or tight fitting sock, and Elevate your foot to promote good circulation. Taking an oral anti-inflammatory, like Advil or Aleve, can also help reduce your pain and swelling so you can work on strengthening the ankle.
A few other home remedies you could try is wearing more supportive shoes, like tennis shoes, or wearing ankle braces that can be bought at local drug stores. The structure of these can provide additional support that is needed when walking or exercising the ankle.
When Should I See The Doctor
Most sprains will heal nicely with these home treatments and exercising the ankle. If there is pain or weakness in the ankle after several weeks, make an appointment with your doctor.
By: Riki Duncan, MA. Ed, ATC, LAT