Ankle sprains are also known as rolled or twisted ankles. A rolled ankle is a fairly common injury, and it can happen to anyone. Rolled ankles develop when the ligaments that support your ankle joint become strained and damaged, usually as a result of overextending these ligaments beyond their usual range of movement.
Ligaments are mostly conformed by collagen, which is why they are stretchy and resistant. However, they can only stretch up to a certain point. When a sudden movement causes them to stretch beyond this range, they suffer injuries that can go from small rips to a complete tearing of the ligament; in severe cases, the ligament can become fully detached from the bone, and bones can even become fractured.
Depending on the affected ligament, sprained or rolled ankles can be classified as:
- Lateral ankle sprain: this is the most common type of rolled ankle. It occurs when you twist your ankle inwards, and the reason this sprain is so common is because the ligaments on the outer portion of the ankle are the weakest of all ankle ligaments, and they become easily injured when the foot is rolled on the opposite direction.
- High ankle sprain: this type of rolled ankle involves injury to the syndesmotic ligament, which runs between the tibia and fibula bones. It usually occurs after an outward twisting of the ankle, and it can take longer to heal.
- Medial ankle sprain: this is the least common type of rolled ankle, since the ligaments on the inner portion of your ankle are thicker and stronger. It requires a strong, traumatic outward twisting of the ankle.
Symptoms of a rolled ankle include pain, swelling, bruising, and joint instability. In some cases, you’ll hear a popping sound when the injury occurs. You should always go to the doctor if you suspect you have a rolled ankle; other conditions, such as fractures, need to be ruled out even in if your sprain is only mild. A podiatrist will also be able to assess the severity of your injury and the type of treatment you should follow to make a full recovery.
The treatment for a rolled ankle always starts with a period of rest to allow your tissues to heal properly. In some cases, a walking boot might be required in order to keep the joint immobile and stable. After this period, your podiatrist or physiotherapist will recommend sprained ankle treatment; only severe rolled ankles require surgery.