An ankle sprain is one of the most common injuries that fells active individuals on a regular basis, but not all ankle sprains are the same. Some are mild, some are severe, and some involve different tissues in the ankle. Below, we take a closer look at some of the common, uncommon and rare types of ankle sprains.
Different Types of Ankle Sprains
We’ll start with the common types of sprains and work our way towards the less frequent sprains.
The Most Common – The Inversion (Lateral) Ankle Sprain
The most common form of ankle sprain, whether you’re playing sports or just walking on the sidewalk, is the inversion or lateral ankle sprain. Your ankle joint is held in place with ligaments on the outside and inside of your ankle, and an inversion sprain involves damage or stretching of the outer ligaments. These ligaments are located on the right side of your right ankle and the left side of your left ankle, and an inversion sprain means your foot turns inward during the sprain, which stresses these outer ligaments (seen in the above picture). These sprains are generally graded as mild, moderate or severe, and most times can be treated with rest and other conservative care techniques.
The Less Common – The Eversion (Medial) Ankle Sprain
The next type of ankle sprain we see in our office, albeit with slightly less frequency, is the eversion or medial ankle sprain. As we noted above, your ankle joint has ligaments on the outside of your foot and the inside of the foot. The ligaments on the inner half of your foot are known as the medial ligaments, and these are the ligaments that are stressed and damaged during an eversion ankle sprain. This type of sprain involves the foot rolling outward, and as it rolls in this direction the ligaments on the inner half of your ankle joint are overstretched. Again, conservative care is typically the best way to treat eversion sprains, but because the inner ligaments help to provide more stability to the ankle joint, severe damage may need to be addressed with a minimally invasive instability correction surgery.
The Rare – The High Ankle Sprain
The rarest type of ankle sprain is the high ankle sprain, which occurs almost exclusively during contact sports. This involves damage to the high ankle ligaments that connect your shin bone to your fibula. The reason they almost exclusively occur during sports is due to the mechanism of injury. These ligaments are injured when your foot is securely planted on the ground and then is exposed to an excessive outwards twisting force. It’s an injury that often affects running backs or football players twisting to make a tackle. Time lost due to a high ankle sprain is usually measured in weeks, not days, so while they are the rarest type of ankle injury, they are also typically the most severe. For mild or moderate high ankle sprains, conservative care and rest may be effective, but for severe high ankle sprains, surgery may be the answer.