Sprained Ankle Vs. Torn Ligaments

An ankle sprain is an injury to the joint's ligaments, or fibrous tissue connecting the bones. Torn ligaments can occur with ankle sprains, but not all sprains are that severe. Symptoms provide clues about whether the ankle has torn ligaments or is simply sprained.


1.        Ankle sprains are characterized by a stretching of the ligaments that leads to swelling of the joint and feelings of pain. A torn ligament is a complete severance of a ligament.

Types of Sprains

2.       Ankle sprains come in several types. An inversion sprain occurs when the ankle flexes to the outside. An eversion sprain occurs when the ankle flexes inward. The least common type is the high ankle sprain, which occurs when the foot is planted and the leg rotates to the outside. Sprains are also graded. A Grade 2 sprain is a partial tear, and a Grade 3 sprain is a total tear.


3.       Sprains will have pain at the ankle site with tenderness. Swelling will begin and there may be bruising. A tear will involve extreme pain and the inability to move the affected joint or limb.


4.       For ankle sprains, the "PRINCE" method is effective: protection, rest, ice, NSAIDS (pain relief medication), compression and elevation. Torn ligaments require the immediate attention of a medical professional.


5.       Stretching daily is a good way to keep ligaments flexible and less injury-prone. Performing a mixture of static (reaching a point of tension and holding), active (stretching and holding, as in yoga), and dynamic (controlled leg and arm movements) stretches will also increase blood flow.


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