Ankle Sprains: Inversion vs. Eversion

By Mikel Betancourt PTA

What is the Difference in the Types of Ankle Sprains?

The ankle is one of the most stable joints in our bodies and it must be since our ankles support our entire body weight, maintain balance, and propel us forward or slows us down while walking or running. Although it is such a stable joint, injuries still occur and the most common are ankle sprains. Ankle sprains occur when one twists and rolls their foot inwards and towards the body or outwards away from the body or inversion vs. eversion. When an ankle is sprained, the ligaments are stretched and causes deficits with overall balance and stability. The ligaments are what stop the ankle from rolling or twisting with each step we take. Let us go over the difference between these two types of injuries.

Inversion vs Eversion Ankle Injuries

Illustration of ankle inversion vs Eversion. JOI Rehab

Inversion vs Eversion

Inversion Ankle injury

This kind of ankle injury occurs when your foot rolls inward towards the body. This type of ankle injury is more common than eversion ankle sprains. These kinds of injuries affect the lateral, or outside structures of the ankle such as the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL), the calcaneofibular ligament (CFL), and the posterior talofibular ligament (PTFL).

Eversion Ankle Injury

This type of injury occurs when someone’s foot rolls outwards or away from the body. While this injury may not be as common as an inversion ankle sprain, these sprains are more severe. This is because the deltoid ligaments on the inside of one’s ankle are stronger and thicker than their counterparts on the outside. Meaning that when these tear or stretch this can lead to increased instability of the ankle overall.

Grades of an Ankle Sprain

In addition to different mechanisms of injury there are grades to ankle sprains. These grades help us clinicians understand how much damage has been done to the joint and surrounding structures. There are 3 grades of ankle sprains with 1 being the least severe and 3 being the most.

illustration showing the different grades of an ankle sprain. JOI Rehab

Grades of an Ankle Sprain

Grade 1 Sprains – Slight tearing of the ligaments with mild swelling.

Grade 2 Sprains – Incomplete tearing of the ligaments with moderate pain and swelling.

Grade 3 Sprains – Complete tearing of the ligaments with severe swelling, pain, and bruising.

Can I still walk with a Sprained Ankle?

Someone would still be able to walk with grade 1 or 2 ankle sprains, albeit with some pain and/or instability. Grade 3 ankle sprains are much more involved, require more protection, and often a longer recovery time which may involve weeks of bracing and physical therapy. Therapy efforts for ankle sprains typically involve strengthening of the ankle overall with body weight or resistance bands. Balance must also be addressed to improve the stability of the ankle to help decrease instances of further sprains.

Written by: Mikel Betancourt PTA

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Related Video: Basic Ankle Ankle Exercises Video 

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