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Common Injuries


Maj Spencer
Sprained ankles and fractures are two common types of ankle injuries. Captain Laydon, what can you tell us about these injuries?

Capt Laydon
Well, Major Spencer, sprained ankles are indeed some of the most common injuries, often caused when the ankle is turned inward during a fall or missed step. This can stretch or tear the ligaments, causing an ankle sprain. The lateral ligament, which is on the outside of your ankle, is most prone to injury. It can take from a few weeks to many months for a sprain to heal, depending upon the severity of the damage to the ligament and how long a person waits to get it treated.

Fractures are another common ankle injury. Any one of the three bones that make up the ankle joint can break as the result of a fall or some other trauma to the ankle.

The symptoms of a broken ankle can include:

  • Immediate and severe pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness to the touch
  • The inability to put any weight on the injured foot, and
  • Deformity, particularly if there is a dislocation as well as a fracture

Unfortunately, the symptoms of a sprain can be nearly identical to those of a fracture, and it’s not unusual to experience a sprain and a fracture simultaneously. Keep in mind that because a bad sprain can sometimes mask the symptoms of a broken ankle, it’s important that you check with your provider after any ankle injury. Your provider needs to evaluate your symptoms in order to determine the severity of the injury.


Classification of Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains are classified based on the severity of the injury. They are given a grade of 1, 2, or 3.

  • Grade 1 sprains have slight stretching and some damage to the fibers of the ligament.
  • Grade 2 sprains have partial tearing of the ligament. If the ankle joint is examined and moved in certain ways, abnormal looseness of the ankle joint is found.
  • Grade 3 sprains have a complete tear of the ligament. If the provider pulls or pushes on the ankle joint in certain movements, gross instability occurs.