An ankle sprain is a stretching or tearing of ligaments. Ligaments are tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect one bone to another. They help to stabilize joints, preventing excessive movement.
Sprained ankles often result from a fall, a sudden twist, or a blow that forces the ankle joint out of its normal position. Ankle sprains commonly occur while participating in sports, wearing inappropriate shoes, or walking or running on an uneven surface.
Sometimes ankle sprains occur because of weak ankles, a condition that some people are born with. Previous ankle or foot injuries can also weaken the ankle and lead to sprains.
Different severities of an ankle sprain:
Grade 1 Ankle Sprain: In a grade 1 ankle sprain, there is some stretching or perhaps tearing of the ligamentous fibers with little joint instability. Mild pain, little swelling and joint stiffness may be apparent.
Grade 2 Ankle Sprain: There is some tearing and separation of the ligamentous fibers and moderate instability of the joint. Moderate to severe pain, swelling and joint stiffness should be expected.
Grade 3 Ankle Sprains: Total rupture of the ligament, manifested primarily by gross instability of the joint. Severe pain may be present initially, followed by little or no pain due to total disruption of nerve fibers. Swelling may be profuse, and thus the joint tends to become very stiff some hours after injury.
Next week we’ll look at what to do when you have a grade 1 ankle sprain.