The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Insiders: Eversion Ankle Sprains

Posted by on Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

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What’s the classic image of an ankle sprain? A person taking a wrong step off a curb. A basketball player landing awkwardly on another player’s foot. Someone slipping while goofing around poolside.

In each of these cases, you probably picture the slo-mo action of the foot coming down and landing on its outside edge instead of on the sole, the ankle rolling outward and down, followed by the inevitable, “Ow, I just did something to my ankle” (insert more colorful language as desired).

This would be correct for about 90% of all sprained ankles. The other 10% go in a different direction–literally. The foot lands on the inside edge and the ankle rolls inward. This is called an eversion sprain.

Eversion? I’ve heard of inversion. Oh, of course you have. Inversion is the popular one, the word that appears much more often in ordinary life (“The inversion of the angel food cake went smoothly”). The common, 90%-of-the-time ankle sprain is an inversion ankle sprain.

So what happens with an eversion ankle sprain? Can you give me more detail? Yes! The deltoids ligaments are found on the medial side, or inside of the foot. These strong ligaments help support the ankle and keep it from bending or turning inwards. They are stronger than the lateral ligaments, or the ligaments on the outside of your leg. The strength of the deltoid ligaments, combined with the power of the thick, strong fibula bone keep your ankle from everting, or rolling inwards–most of the time.

Oh, so that’s why these sprains are rarer. Indeed. Don’t actually do it, but just think about how quickly your foot and leg correct your position when you start to land on the inside of your foot as opposed to how easily your ankle rolls in the other direction. Again, don’t actually do it–just let all the awkward steps in your life flash before your eyes and remember how rarely your ankle rolls inward. So when you do evert your ankle, it’s the result of a pretty powerful misstep.

What are the symptoms of an eversion ankle sprain? The first is hearing your brain say, “Hey, I just rolled my ankle inward in a really extreme way. That’s never happened to me before.” The second is a lot of pain, followed by swelling and bruising on the inside of your ankle. You’ll realize that you can’t put much weight, if any, on your foot and that you don’t have much range of motion. Those are pretty solid signs that you have an eversion ankle sprain. However, to be sure you should contact a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) to get an exam and accurate diagnosis.

How is an eversion ankle sprain treated? The same way as an average inversion ankle sprain–rest, ice, compression, elevation for the first 48 hours. In severe cases, a podiatrist may give you a cane or walking boot to help you keep your weight off. Eversion ankle sprains can take twice as long to heal as inversion ankle sprains, though. Once the ankle has healed, you’ll need to do some exercises to help restore full mobility and strengthen your ankle. Your podiatrist will be able to recommend a course of rehab for you, but you can also check out some eversion ankle exercises at Livestrong and Physioadvisor. Halpern Fitness has some suggestions for a time line for exercises and rehab, as well as how to strengthen your ankle to help prevent future injuries.

Thanks, but I think I’ll try to avoid an eversion ankle sprain. Good idea. If, however, you do have some kind of ankle or foot issue, don’t hesitate to contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.