Ankle sprains are a very common injury, and can happen to anyone. A sprain can occur when you take part in sports and physical fitness activities, or when you simply step on an uneven surface, or step down at an angle.
Ligaments are elastic structures that attach bone to bone. The ligaments of the ankle hold the ankle bones and joint in place. They protect the ankle joint from abnormal movements – especially twisting, turning, and rolling of the foot. Sprains occur when a ligament is forced to stretch beyond its normal range. A severe sprain causes actual tearing of the elastic fibers. Ankle sprains occur when the foot twists, rolls or turns beyond its normal motions. This results in pain and swelling.
Ankle sprains can occur when the foot rolls inward (inversion ankle sprain), or outward (eversion ankle sprain), relative to the ankle. People often recall hearing a “pop” when the ankle sprains. There are 3 types (or grades) of ankle sprain:
- Grade 1 Sprains. The ligament is mildly damaged in a Grade 1 Sprain. It has been slightly stretched with some damage to the fibers of the ligament, but is still able to help keep the ankle joint stable.
- Grade 2 Sprains. This is often referred to as a partial tear of the ligament. The ligament stretches to the point that abnormal laxity of the ankle joint occurs, resulting in instability.
- Grade 3 Sprains. This type of sprain is most commonly referred to as a complete tear of the ligament. The ligament has been split into two pieces resulting in gross instability.