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Ankle Sprains

By Brad Walker
Flexibility Expert
Updated: November 15, 2008
Ankle sprains are a common risk for anybody, especially for athletes and those who exercise regularly. The ankle is a complex area joint and because of its position, it's at a great risk for injury. Sprains are the most common injury for an ankle, but there are different types of sprains and they each have different effects on the joint. Before you can effectively treat an ankle injury, you'll need to know how to identify each type.

The Basics of an Ankle Sprain

Ankle injuries are often misunderstood. Many people confuse sprains and strains, but these are two very different injuries. Strains involve a tearing of the muscle or tendon while sprains are more common and they involve a tearing of the ligament as the result of a severe twist. Ligaments differ from muscles or tendons in that they attach bone to bone while the others attach muscle to bone.

The ankle joint has several different ligaments that keep it in place and keep the body stable. Most of the ligaments are positioned on the outside of the ankle, but there are a few on the inside, too. The three main ones are the anterior talofibular, the posterior talofibular and the calcaneofibular ligaments.
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First Degree Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains fit into three categories. A first degree ankle sprain is the least severe of the three. The injured ankle in this situation might lose some joint stability as the result of a minor stretching of the ligament, but the injury does not last long. The person might also feel some slight pain and stiffness in the joint.

Second Degree Ankle Sprains

With a second degree sprain, the ligaments get stretched more and there is usually some slight tearing that occurs, too. The ankle area swells up and there is more pain than with a first-degree sprain. The ankle joint also loses stability with this category.

Third Degree Ankle Sprains

Finally, a third degree sprain is the most serious and causes the most pain and swelling. In this case, at least one of the ligaments in the ankle joint gets completely torn. Massive pain, swelling and instability accompany the third degree sprain and it takes longest to recover from this one, too. Ironically, though, since one or more of the ligaments get severed, the nerve endings lose feeling in the ankle area and the extreme pain generally disappears soon after the injury occurs.

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