A sprained ankle is one of the most common injuries in America. Sprained ankles make up nearly half of all ankle injuries, and they are especially common among athletes. Sports injuries often include a sprained ankle with prolonged symptoms, which is why personalized treatment and preventative care are so essential.
While an ankle sprain may stop you right in your tracks, other symptoms may not be as obvious. In fact, some ankle injuries can be more subtle, and you may even find yourself worsening them without realizing it.
At Burlington County Foot & Ankle Associates, we treat hundreds of ankle injuries every year. From children to seniors, our family-friendly practice helps everyone recover, heal and get back to living life fully after an injury.
If you’re wondering if you’ve sprained your ankle or need treatment, take a look at some of the most common ankle injuries we see on a daily basis.
Common Ankle Injuries
A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments on the sides of your ankle become overworked, stretched or torn. This injury can be mild or severe, sometimes requiring ankle sprain surgery. In other cases, rest, elevation and patience are the best remedies.
When you sprain your ankle, you can wind up with pain that radiates along the outside of the bone. Because of this, many people mistake their sprain for a broken ankle. Pain on the outside, however, is actually better than pain radiating from the inside. Inner ankle pain may be from injuries to the tendons or ligaments inside your muscle, so you should seek help quickly.
Signs of a sprained ankle to watch out for are:
- Pain and swelling.
- Tenderness to the touch.
- Difficulty bearing weight on the affected foot.
- A reduced range of motion.
- A popping sound when you were first injured.
A rolled or twisted ankle may feel similar to a sprain, but there are some subtle differences in the injury that impact your symptoms. Knowing whether you have a rolled ankle or ankle sprain can also help your doctor choose the best course of treatment.
We determine ankle injuries by examining which parts of the ankle are affected; the bone, tendon and ligaments all have different roles, but they must work together to keep you walking and feeling your best. When you have a rolled ankle, it can either be an internal or external rotation. These are known as inversion and eversion sprains. You can classify a rolled ankle as an ankle sprain, and your doctor can determine which level of severity it has on a scale of I, II or III.
- Grade I ankle sprains are mild, causing discomfort and some pain, but they heal on their own with rest, ice, compression and elevation (R.I.C.E. method).
- Grade II ankle sprains are moderate, which may make it more difficult for you to perform daily activities. Sports practice and exercise are out of the question during your recovery, so you’ll have to take it easy and possibly wear a splint until your ankle heals.
Grade III ankle sprains require immediate medical intervention to prevent permanent damage; these are severe injuries that usually require ankle sprain surgery to correct. You will have to wear a cast for several weeks, and in some cases, repeat surgeries are required to tighten ligaments.
Doctors classify ankle fractures by their anatomical position, which is either above, at or below the ankle syndesmosis joint. Ankle fractures may be severe, which stop you from being able to walk, or they could be more subtle. Sometimes, patients don’t realize how severe their fracture is, and they continue to suffer and worsen their injury through overuse.
Ankle fractures can be caused through sports injury, exercise, a slip-and-fall injury, tripping or physical trauma. Warning signs include swelling and pain, tenderness and touch sensitivity, bruising and a “popped” appearance from a dislocated joint.