Nursing School Knowledge: Inversion vs Eversion of the Foot

SimpleNursing Editorial Team Feb 27, 2024
Young female nurse tests the flexion of an older lady's ankle and foot for injury and range of motion in a hospital examination room.

Imagine you’re walking down the street and suddenly trip and roll your ankle. 

What just happened?

Well, you might have inverted or everted your foot. 

But do you know the difference between the two?

Inversion vs eversion of the foot is a common concept taught in nursing school. Understanding it can help you better care for clients, especially those with ankle injuries or conditions.

In this article, we’ll delve deeper into these two movements and explore their importance in nursing.

What do inversion and eversion of the foot mean? 

Inversion and eversion are two types of movements at the subtalar joint, found between the talus and the calcaneus bones of the foot.

These movements involve the rotation of the foot around its longitudinal axis, which runs from the heel to the toes.

Inversion turns the sole inward toward the midline of the body. Eversion is the opposite movement, which turns the sole outward, away from the midline.

You can remember the difference using these mnemonics:

  • Inversion starts with “in,” which means the sole points inward.
  • Eversion sounds like “evert,” which means to turn outward.

Why are the inversion and eversion of the foot important? 

Inversion and eversion allow the foot to adapt to different surfaces and terrains, such as walking on uneven ground, climbing stairs, or running on a track.

They also help maintain the balance and alignment of the body, especially when standing or walking. These movements also play a crucial role in shock absorption, helping reduce the impact on our joints and muscles.

In nursing, understanding the mechanics of inversion and eversion is essential when assessing foot injuries or conditions.

Inversion vs eversion ankle sprains 

Inversion and eversion of the foot are related to the risk of ankle sprains, one of the most common injuries in sports or daily activities.

An ankle sprain occurs when ligaments that link the bones of the ankle joint stretch or tear because of excessive force or twisting.

There are two types of sprains: eversion and inversion.

  • An inversion sprain happens when the foot inverts too much, causing damage to the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle.
  • An eversion sprain happens when the foot everts too much, causing damage to the ligaments on the inner side of the ankle.

Inversion sprains are more common because the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle are weaker and more prone to injury. Sprains vary in severity based on ligament damage.

The signs and symptoms of a sprain include:

  • Ankle instability
  • Bruising
  • Having trouble bearing weight on the affected foot or walking normally
  • Pain
  • Popping sound or sensation at the time of injury
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness when touching the ankle

How can nurses help clients with inversion and eversion sprains? 

Nurses need to assess the severity of the ankle injury, provide proper care, and educate clients on how to prevent further complications or recurrence.

The first step is to evaluate the client’s history, symptoms, and physical examination. Nurses may also need to order tests, such as X-rays, to rule out fractures or other injuries.

They can use the following criteria to classify the sprain as grade I, II, or III:

  • Grade I: a mild sprain with minimal swelling and tenderness, no instability, and no loss of function
  • Grade II: a moderate sprain with moderate swelling and tenderness, some instability, and loss of function
  • Grade III: a severe sprain with swelling and tenderness, significant instability, and complete loss of function.

Treatment depends on the injury’s severity and the client’s condition. 

The general principles of treatment are to:

  • Reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Protect the injured ligaments.
  • Restore range of motion and strength.
  • Improve balance and coordination.

The initial treatment for most sprains is to follow the RICE protocol, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Nurses may also need to apply a splint, brace, or tape to immobilize and support the ankle joint.

A health care provider (HCP) may also prescribe painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve the discomfort. Recovery time varies depending on the severity of the injury and the client’s compliance with the treatment plan.

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