Ankle injuries are among the most common presenting complaints to emergency departments and urgent care centers. The ankle is a very flexible hinge-type joint, held together by ligaments and mainly designed to flex upwards and push downwards when we ambulate. It also allows for inward and outward movements (inversion and eversion) and even some degree of rotation side to side. Every joint has inherent weaknesses, and the ankle’s Achilles’ heel (so to speak) is excessive inversion. In other words, it does not take much force to twist the ankle inwards beyond its structural limitations. Reach down and check it out. When this happens, the ligaments on the outside (lateral aspect) of the ankle will stretch and tear, or sometimes even rip off a sliver of bone. By definition, this is a sprain. However, given enough force, the same mechanism of injury can cause true fractures, sometimes even severe enough to require surgery.
Frank Edwards was born and raised in Western New York. After serving as an Army helicopter pilot in Vietnam, he studied English and Chemistry at UNC Chapel Hill, then received an M.D. from the University of Rochester. Along the way he earned an MFA in Writing at Warren Wilson College. He continues to write, teach and practice emergency medicine. More information can be found at http://www.frankjedwards.com/.