Typically we classify an ankle sprain into three categories, depending on the severity of the injury:
This is what we’d classify as a mild sprain, where there has been slight stretching or microscopic tearing of the ligament fibres. Common causes of a mild sprain are inversion movements, such as a sudden twisting of the foot, which are very common in sports like football. You can expect a bit of swelling and slight bruising, but you’ll generally be able to walk on it. Applying some ice and trying to rest should mean you’ll see improvement in a week or two.
This type of sprain is a significant injury and there may be a partial tear of a ligament. This means you may find it difficult to put full weight on that foot and there could also be quite a bit of pain when you do so. You may also experience some bruising which could go right down to the toes.
This type of sprain is the most severe category and would usually indicate a full rupture of a ligament. This can create instability in the ankle, so the symptoms described above will be far more significant and intrusive. If you’re in severe pain you should see a doctor or your local A&E department to check the ankle isn’t fractured, as tests and scans may be required in the assessment.