Ankle Sprains are one of the most common sports injuries. Sprained ankle can affect any type of athlete as well as non-athletic individuals. Ankle sprains typically occur from rolling ones ankle, therefore, it is common in basketball, baseball, football and many other sports. Ankle sprains are also commonly seen when someone takes a misstep, slips on ice or misses a curb.
Are there different types of ankle sprains?
There are three different levels of ankle sprains as well as three different types of ankle sprains. Ankle sprains can be graded from a level 1 to a level 3. Level 1 is when there is mild damage to the ankle ligaments, level 2 consists of a partial ligament tear and level 3, being the worst type of sprain, is a complete rupture of the ankle ligaments.
There are three different types of ankle sprains. The first being a lateral ankle sprain, which is the most common type. This is when one twists their ankle and injuries the ligaments located laterally, or on the “outside of the ankle”. This is seen with jumping injuries, such as in basketball. The second type of ankle sprain is when there is a medial ankle sprain, or when the deltoid ligaments are injured. These are the ligament on the “inside of the ankle”. The last type of ankle sprain, which is the most severe, is a high ankle sprain, or a syndesmotic sprain. This is when there is a sprain of the ligament connecting the tibia and fibula, the two long bones of the leg. This is caused via high contact, high intensity sports. This ankle sprain is commonly misdiagnosed as the first two types of sprains.
How do I know if I have an ankle sprain?
Sprains are typically diagnosed via physical examination from a physician. X-rays are taken to rule out fractures and will help determine if there is a tear of the ankle ligaments.
What are my treatment options?
Conservative treatment is usually attempted first and is determined based on the severity of the injury. Usually ice, elevation, compression, immobilization and limited weight bearing is the initial treatment. At some point in the healing process physical therapy will be a key component is regaining strength and flexibility in the ankle. Depending on how significant the injury your physician will determine when it is necessary to begin physical therapy.
What if those conservative treatment methods don’t work?
If all of the ankle ligaments are torn in an ankle sprain of if someone has had multiple ankle sprains in a short amount of time your physician may recommend surgery to repair the ankle. The level of repair of the ankle ligaments will be evaluated via MRI or CT scan. Once your physician determines how many ankle ligaments need repair, you will undergo surgery to repair the ankle. Post operatively you will be immobilized for 6-8 weeks. Once you are out of an immobilization device aggressive physical therapy will begin to regain strength in the ankle.
Ankle sprains are very common sports injury and can affect everyone. The key is to seek treatment soon after the injury in order to avoid long term complications.