5 Common Ankle Injuries
What Are the Most Common Ankle Injuries?
Ankle injuries are regular occurences in some of our most popular sports. The ankle often absorbs a high level of force. This happens when an athlete twists away from a tackle, cuts to the basket, or changes direction.
The ankle must also absorb the initial impact when a player lands from a jump. This is another common situation that puts the ankle at risk for injury.
You can see where landing in an unnatural position would put undue stress upon the ankle joint. But you don't have to play a contact sport for injuries to the ankle to happen. Runners, skiers, and hikers are also subject to common ankle injuries.
Heck, you could be walking off of a curb or down an ill-designed set of stairs and twist your ankle. We've all been there.
So you can see why there are so many ankle injuries, and why I'm so busy all the time. For those of you wondering, today I'm going to explore some of the more common ankle injuries. Let's call it the "top 5 ankle injuries." Here we go.
5 Common Ankle Injuries
1. The Inversion Ankle Sprain
We mentioned that ankle injuries can happen to anyone. Meaning, you don't have to be competing in sports to suffer an ankle sprain. And the inversion ankle sprain is the type we see most often. We're talking up to 90% of people dealing with this hyper-common ankle injury. Here's a good example. When you see your favorite NBA star "roll the ankle" after an awkward landing on someone's foot. This is most likely an inversion sprain.
Here are some of the characteristics of the inversion ankle sprain.
- The ankle rolls inward (hence the term inversion)
- When this inversion occurs, the ligaments become stretched
- Recovery from this injury is quite varied based upon the severity. See the infographic below to see the three grades of ankle sprains
2. The Eversion Ankle Sprain
So the inversion sprain has to do with twisting the ankle inward. The Eversion sprain is the opposite-- the ankle twists outward. Eversion sprains impact the deltoid and medial ligaments of your ankle. The reason we see less eversion sprains is because these ligaments are stronger.
- Eversion sprains account for between 10-20 percent of the ankle sprains
- Recovery from eversion sprains varies upon the severity of the injury
3. The High Ankle Sprain
Another common ankle injury. Ever see your favorite NFL running back get tackled while planting leg and foot? If they get carted off the field with an ankle injury, chances are it's a high ankle sprain. This injury happens when the the foot/lower leg twists outward due to the force. Then we get a sprain of the syndesmotic ligaments. These are the ligaments which connect the tibia and fibula.
- High ankle sprains can take 2-3 weeks to heal
- Treat this injury using RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
4. Ankle Dislocations
This is a major injury which often needs surgery. The ankle is subjected to major force of impact, which causes it to flex outside it's natural range of motion. Due to the force causing this injury, we can also see fractured ankle bones
- Plates are screws are a common way to stabilize the ankle joint with this injury
- Recovery from this injury can take up to 2.5 months
5. Ankle Fractures
With an ankle fracture, you break the bones in the ankle joint. The severity of this injuries varies. Major ankle fractures need surgery. In other instances, the fracture is tiny enough to allow you to continue walking on it.
- Ankle fractures can also include injuries to the ligaments
- Ankle fractures can take up to 4 months to recover from
- Return to sports may take even longer
Recovering from common ankle injuries
As you can see, recovery time from these different injuries varies. Even an inversion ankle sprain must be treated on a case-by-case basis. That's why we tell you to visit a specialist to get advice on your specific individual injury.
There is a protocol called RICE that can help you deal with the immediate pain and discomfort. This is helpful for common ankle injuries.
REST - Get off the ankle as soon as possible.
ICE - Find a good ol' ice pack and apply it to the sprain
Compression - Apply a compression wrap to stabilize the ankle. Here's a good article on how to compress an ankle. https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=te7620
Elevation - Elevate the ankle. Lie down and use some pillows.
Three Grades of Ankle Sprains
As promised, here's an info-graphic detailing the three grades of ankle sprains.