The 3 Degrees of Sprains

Ankle sprains can occur to just about anyone: athletes, dancers and just the average Joe walking down the street are all susceptible to this painful injury. All it takes is one clumsy step, an unseen hole in the ground or an awkward sideways movement to sprain your ankle.

Just because anyone can sprain their ankle doesn’t mean all sprains are the same. There are two types of sprains which are classified into three degrees of severity.

Knowing a little about the different types will help you get the medical care you need and on the road to recovery.

What Happens During a Sprain?

If you have a sprain, the bone is not injured. Rather, the ligaments that support the ankle get stretched too far, causing injury. There are two types of sprains:

  • Inversion Sprain: Most common is the inversion ankle sprain. It happens when your foot falls inward and the outer ligaments are stretched too far. You will experience pain on the outside of your ankle.
  • Eversion Sprain: When your foot is twisted outwards and the inner ligament is stretched, you’ll have an eversion sprain. As you might expect, you’ll have pain on the inside of your ankle.

Three Degrees of Sprainsdegrees of ankle sprains

Regardless of what type of sprain you have, your orthopedic doctor will grade its severity using a three-degree scale.

First degree: Your ankle’s ligaments have stretched too far but have not torn. Symptoms might include:

  • Mild pain and swelling
  • Limited joint stiffness and instability
  • Uncomfortable jogging or jumping

Second degree: The is the most common type of sprain and results in a partial tear of the ligament. Symptoms can include:

  • Lots of swelling and bruising
  • Moderate pain
  • Loss of motion or use of your ankle
  • Difficulty walking

Third degree: In the most severe type of sprain, the ligament has been completely torn. Symptoms are:

  • Severe swelling and pain
  • Instability of the joint
  • Extreme loss of motion
  • Significant pain while walking

Treatment for a Sprain

Sprains are painful, but will usually heal on their own with rest and treatment. When you experience a sprain, an ankle surgeon will recommend the RICE treatment:

  • Rest – during the first 24 to 48 hours.
  • Ice – 20 minutes at a time during the first 48 hours.
  • Compression – wear a snug-fitting brace.
  • Elevate – your ankle above the heart as much as possible.

If you’ve hurt your ankle, please contact our office for an appointment. You may need additional medical treatment or physical therapy to get you back on your feet again.

Frank Collier – Pain Management Specialist | SouthEast Orthopedic Specialist

Frank Collier, MD

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Pain Management Specialist

Dr. Frank Collier is a board-certified Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician and Pain Management Specialist who specializes in the treatment of injuries and illnesses that affect how people move and function while living with pain.



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