Whether it is running and jumping on the basketball court or just a misstep on the stairs in front of your home, ankle sprains are some of the most commonly experienced injuries. Ankle sprains comprise nearly 85 percent of the ankle injuries doctors see each year.
There are different types, with different symptoms and degrees of severity.
Ankle sprains are categorized into three grades, based upon increased severity: I, II, and III. A Grade I means the ligaments are stretched. Grade II means the ligaments are partially torn, while Grade III is a full tear of the ligaments in the ankle. Each grade can be applied to the following different forms:
- High ankle sprain. The ligaments of the tibia and fibula are injured at the ankle joint.
- Medial ankle sprain. The inside ligaments are injured. Usually called the deltoid ligament.
- Low ankle sprain. The ligaments that support the subtalar joint, below the true ankle joint.
- Lateral ankle sprain. Occurs at the outside of the true ankle joint, and is the most common.
These four symptoms are common to all types of sprains.
- Pain. The most obvious and immediate symptom of a sprain is pain. Sharp, well-localized pain will be felt in your ankle for almost any type of sprain, though it does become more severe the higher degree of sprain. If the nerves in the ankle are stretched because of the sprain, burning and numbness may also be felt. As you begin to rest your ankle, the pain can become more generalized around your ankle.
- Swelling. In nearly all cases of sprained ankles, swelling occurs. As with pain, this will be greater with a more severe sprain. You can combat swelling by elevating your ankle the day or two following your injury. Swelling often becomes worse if you do not elevate an injured ankle.
- Bruising. Another common symptom of a sprained ankle is bruising, which is simply a black and blue discoloration over your ankle. Bruising is caused by bleeding under the skin; it is not an indicator of the severity of your sprained ankle.
- Joint Instability. With a high grade ankle sprain, you will most likely feel immediate instability in your ankle, whether it is looseness or trembling. Many people who experience a sprained ankle will hear a popping sound. If you hear this sound, it is essential to limit the movement of your ankle and elevate it.
An ankle sprain is a common injury for many people with active lifestyles. You should always take precautions if you begin experiencing any of the symptoms above, as immediate action will help fuel a quicker recovery.