When you are not a medical expert, the issue of twisted vs. sprained ankle can puzzle you because both are similar.
The key difference is the severity of the problem; a sprained ankle is akin to a twisted ankle, but the injury is greater and more painful. You are most likely suffering from a sprain if the ankle is swollen and bruised, and it causes worse pain.
It is essential to know the differences between both injuries to treat them properly. Mild injuries can be treated at home. But for more severe injuries, giving adequate professional treatment makes all the difference between healing fast or suffering years of chronic pain.
Symptoms of Twisted vs. Sprained Ankle
Twisted ankle injuries are widespread. An ankle sprain is more serious. It typically occurs during strenuous activity or athletic performance. However, it can happen rain or shine if you are not careful.
Your doctor will carefully observe your ankle sprain and diagnose you based on the following symptoms:
Warmth to touch
Limited range of motion
Inability to bear weight
All of these symptoms will be more severe with ankle sprains. Bruises, sharp pain, instability, and discomfort while rotating your foot indicate a sprained ankle rather than a twisted ankle.
Grading Your Ankle Injury
Physiotherapists use a grading scale to diagnose the severity of the injury and place it on a scale from 1 to 3, 1 being mild, 2 being moderate, and 3 being severe ankle sprain. It takes from one to three weeks to heal a mild injury. A severe ankle sprain can take as long as six months to heal.
After grading your injury, the doctor will specify physiotherapy treatment or assign you for additional diagnostics that may include an X-ray, MRI, or a CT scan.
(Pay attention to how your ankle looks and feels: if there is a visible bone protruding, the ankle is deformed, crooked, numb, or you are in extreme pain — you have a fracture.)
Ankle Sprain: What Happens?
Twisting or spraining your ankle is an injury to the ligaments.
The ankle has three fibular ligaments: anterior talofibular ligament, posterior talofibular ligament, and calcaneofibular ligament, and a deltoid ligament, which keep the foot in a stable position and the ankle free from injuries.
An ankle sprain happens when you roll or move your ankle in an awkward way, causing the tough tissue band of the ligaments to twist, extend, or, in the worst case, tear mildly or more severely.
The ankle is most stable in dorsiflexion — with flexed toes and least stable in plantar-flexion — with pointed toes. Therefore, most ankle injuries occur when you step with your foot on the ground in an unsupported manner.
Inversion ankle sprains (when the foot rolls inward) tear the fibular ligaments. Eversion ankle sprains (when the foot rolls outward) tear the deltoid ligament. The prevailing reason to visit a physiotherapist with an ankle sprain is the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) injury.
Twisted Ankle Treatment
Usually, RICE (rest-ice-compress-elevate) therapy will help. Unlike a sprained ankle, a twisted ankle won’t be as painful. The injury will go away after two weeks.
Sprained Ankle Treatment
Always seek out help from a medical professional to treat ankle sprains.
If the pain doesn’t go away with REST treatment, your doctor may prescribe painkillers.
As a general rule for all moderate to severe ankle sprains, a NO HARM (no heat-alcohol-running-massage) protocol may also be advised.
Strapping can keep the ankle stable and protect the blood flow regenerate the injured area.
Surgical methods may be applied to severe injuries.
When you feel better, you can start an exercise program to restore strength, stability, and balance into your ankle and foot.
Do you feel an unexplained pain in your ankle? Let us know, and we will do our best to answer any questions about a twisted or sprained ankle!