How Long Does It Take For A Bad Ankle Sprain To Heal
Mild, low-grade ankle sprains often recover in one to three weeks with rest and non-surgical treatment . Moderate injuries may take three to four weeks to heal. More severe ankle ligament injuries may take three to six months to recover due to reduced blood supply to the ligaments. Even very severe injuries can usually be healed within a year if proper rehabilitation is done.
Ankle sprains are common injuries that most people experience at some point in their lives. An ankle sprain can be either a partial or complete tear of the ligaments attached to the ankle bone. Partial tears involve only one of the ligaments, while complete tears involve both. Most patients will have pain around the area of the injury and may have difficulty standing or walking on the affected side. In addition, they may have problems with balance, coordination, and elevation of the injured leg when standing.
Ankle sprains are generally classified as mild, moderate, or severe. Mild injuries require no more than 30 minutes of activity restriction and follow-up visits with your doctor. Moderate injuries limit activity for up to two weeks and require medical attention. Severe injuries may cause disability for several months and require surgery to repair the damaged ligaments.
After an ankle sprain, it is important to rest the joint and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling and pain.
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How Long Should You Stay Off A Sprained Ankle
If you have a sprained ankle, it is important to take the proper steps to ensure that it heals correctly. This means resting for one or two days and using ice to reduce swelling. Depending on the severity of the injury, healing can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months. However, if you follow the RICE protocol and take other measures to care for your ankle, you can expect to resume normal activity within 4-6 weeks.
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What Is The Difference Between A Sprained Ankle And A Broken Ankle
A sprained ankle is when the ligaments in your ankle are torn. A broken ankle or ankle fracture is when one or more of the bones in your ankle break. Severe sprains and fractures have similar symptoms and are both caused by twisting or rotating your ankle, tripping or falling, or trauma to your ankle. Sprains heal faster, but it can take up to six weeks for a broken ankle to heal.
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Living With A Sprained Ankle
Ankle sprains are common problems, but they do heal. However, depending on the grade of your sprain, you may not be able to return to normal activities right away. Your doctor can provide a time frame for your situation. Once you return to regular activities, you still may need to wear an ankle brace or bandage for support and protection.
Your doctor or physical therapist may provide a list of ankle exercises for you to do. This will help strengthen your muscles. He or she will tell you when to start the exercises and how long to do them. Depending on the severity of the sprain, you may need to do them for several weeks. Its important you do the exercises for the amount of time your doctor says. This will help prevent future sprains.
Physiotherapy For A Sprained Ankle
You dont always need physiotherapy for a sprained ankle. But if your sprain is very bad or isnt getting better after a week or so, you may benefit from seeing a physiotherapist. You can often book an appointment with a physiotherapist directly, without needing to see your GP. This is known as self-referral. Ask at your GP surgery to see whether or not this is available in your area.
A physiotherapist can develop a formal exercise programme for you which will involve co-ordination exercises and balance training. It will aim to build your strength and mobility while getting back the full range of movement in your ankle. Having strong ankle muscles and joints may mean youre less likely to sprain your ankle again. Its important to stick to the exercise plan your physiotherapist recommends. This will help to make sure your ankle is back to full strength before you return to any sports or high impact activities.
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Most Common Sports Injuries
Dr. Barg: The ankle sprain is for sure the most common injury in the United States. This is actually also the most common sports injury. More than every 10th patient who is showing up in the emergency room is coming to the clinic because of the ankle sprain. Of course, you cannot just do in every patient without seeing this patient, just the routine radiograph assessment.
In the last case, there are some clinical studies addressing the efficacy or whether the radiograph need to be done or not. I don’t think those guidelines are good. However, it’s still in the hands of the treating surgeon or orthopedic surgeon whether the patient does need the radiographs or not. In my experience, if it’s just a mild sprain, especially in the younger kids or teenager, there’s definitely no need to do immediately radiographs.
Dr. Miller: What does a mild sprain look like to you?
What Is A Mild Ankle Sprain
Dr. Barg: A mild sprain looks like for me, for example, it’s always only on the lateral side. That means on the outside, not the inside. Usually, it’s just mildly small and the patient still can go for weight bearing. sort of pain or maybe just a sore, not necessarily the pain. They don’t have the swelling on the medial side, on the inner side. This is for me the mild sore.
If the patient does present with a swelling with some hematoma, that means some color change, on the medial and/or lateral side, there’s definitely need to perform or to do the radiographs, the X-rays to exclude a bone fracture.
Dr. Miller: What about if right after the ankle is sprained that they cannot weight bear? Does that make a difference? I’ve heard that sometimes, if the person who sprains their ankle is not able to put weight on that foot for a period of time right after the injury, they should receive an X-ray.
Dr. Barg: Usually, right after the injury, almost everybody who has ankle sprains cannot bear weight. I would definitely wait a couple hours. Usually, those patients have some substantial pain relief within four to six hours after the injury, especially if they do elevate the foot, if you do the cooling of the injured ankle.
It can be a foot and ankle surgeon, it can be also the guy or the colleague who is experienced in sports injuries and then, finally, we will decide whether this particular person needs radiographs or not.
Dr. Barg: Yes, and I do mean exactly this.
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What Does A Diagnosis Involve
Its important to get medical attention if you think you may have broken your ankle, or if you have severe pain, swelling, or bruising after injuring your ankle.
Your doctor or healthcare professional will carefully examine your ankle, foot, and lower part of your leg. Theyll also check for tenderness and move your foot to get an idea of how well you can move your ankle joint.
If your injury is more severe, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following imaging tests to help them accurately diagnose your injury:
Even though the symptoms of a sprained and broken ankle are similar, the treatments are quite different.
If You Need To Ask You Already Need Help
The difference between a fracture and a bad sprain is not that one needs medical attention and the other only some rest at home.
If you have sprained your ankle so badly that you think it might be broken, you have absolutely done enough damage to your ankle that you should see us right away.
In fact, even less severe ankle sprains should warrant at least a call to us to let us know what happened. Even a relatively low-intensity sprain can result in ankle instability if it isnt allowed to heal properly. This can increase your chances of further injuries, which can further destabilize the ankle, and it will only keep going downhill from there.
Never hesitate to contact us about any ankle injuries or problems you might have. Even if it turns out to be something easily treatable with rest at home, we will have a record we can look back on should we need to in the future. Remember that we can easily see you via telemedicine as well!
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When To See Your Doctor
Unless your symptoms are mild or improving soon after the injury, contact your clinician. He or she may want to see you immediately if your pain and swelling are severe, or if the ankle feels numb or won’t bear weight. He or she will examine the ankle and foot and may manipulate them in various ways to determine the type of sprain and the extent of injury. This examination may be delayed for a few days until swelling and pain improve in the meantime, continue with the RICE regimen.
X-rays aren’t routinely used to evaluate ankle injuries. Ligament problems are the source of most ankle pain, and ligaments don’t show up on regular x-rays. To screen for fracture, clinicians use a set of rules called the Ottawa ankle rules, after the Canadian team that developed them to identify areas of the foot where pain, tenderness, and inability to bear weight suggest a fracture. A review of studies involving more than 15,000 patients concluded that the Ottawa rules identified patients with ankle fractures more than 95% of the time.
What Are The Types Of Ankle Sprains
There are three types of ankle sprains based on how much ligament damage occurred:
- Grade 1 . The ligament fibers stretched slightly or there is a very small tear. Your ankle will have minor swelling and tenderness to the touch.
- Grade 2 . The ligament is torn, but it isnt a complete tear. Your ankle has swelling over the injury and it hurts to move.
- Grade 3 . The ligament is torn completely. Your ankle has significant swelling, the injury is painful and walking is difficult.
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Anatomy Of An Ankle Sprain
An ankle sprain occurs when the strong ligaments that support the ankle stretch beyond their limits and tear. Ankle sprains are common injuries that occur among people of all ages. They range from mild to severe, depending upon how much damage there is to the ligaments.
One of the most common knee injuries is an anterior cruciate ligament sprain or tear.
Athletes who participate in high demand sports like soccer, football, and basketball are more likely to injure their anterior cruciate ligaments.
What Are Some Home Remedies For A Sprained Ankle
Many home remedies can help reduce pain and swelling from a sprained ankle.
When you are injured, it is important to care for the injury properly to ensure that it heals correctly. One way to do this is with the RICE method, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
This method can help reduce pain and swelling and also prevent further injury.
To use the RICE method, first, rest the injured area to allow your body to heal. Then apply ice to reduce swelling and numb the area. Next, compress the area with a bandage or wrap to immobilize it and prevent further injury. Finally, elevate the area above your heart to reduce swelling. Following these steps can help your injury heal properly and prevent further damage.
Garlic may also be effective in reducing pain and boosting the immune system. Essential oils can also be used to help reduce inflammation and increase healing.
Most minor ankle sprains will improve with rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers. However, if the pain does not improve or you experience severe swelling, it is important to see your doctor for further treatment.
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Mechanism Of Injury/pathological Process
Lateral ankle sprains usually occur during a rapid shift of body center of mass over the landing or weight-bearing foot. The ankle rolls outward, whilst the foot turns inward causing the lateral ligament to stretch and tear. When a ligament tears or is overstretched its previous elasticity and resilience rarely returns. Some researchers have described situations where return to play is allowed too early, compromising sufficient ligamentous repair. Reports have proposed that the greater the level of plantar flexion the higher the likelihood of sprain Yeung et al, 1994, in an epidemiological study of unilateral ankle sprains, reported that the dominant leg is 2.4 times more vulnerable to sprain than the non-dominant one. . A less common mechanism of injury involves forceful eversion movement at the ankle injuring the strong deltoid ligament.
- Patient presents with inversion injury or forceful eversion injury to the ankle. May have previous history of ankle injuries or instability.
- Able to partial weight-bear only on the affected side.
- If patient presents with description of cold foot or paraesthesia, suspect neurovascular compromise of peroneal nerve.
- Tenderness, swelling and bruising can occur on either side of the ankle.
- No bony tenderness, deformity or crepitus present.
- Passive inversion or plantar flexion with inversion should replicate symptoms for a lateral ligament sprain. Passive eversion should replicate symptoms for a medial ligament sprain.
Rare And Unusual Ankle Pain Causes
Rare and unusual causes that may lead to severe ankle pain include:
- Loss of blood supply to the bone: This can follow trauma, blood vessel blockage, or certain diseases, and causes bone damage and pain.
- Tumors: These can form in and around the ankle joint, causing pain and swelling.
Whether you’re incredibly active or spend most nights on the couch, an ankle injury can happen to anyone. If you find yourself with an ankle that’s not cooperating, it’s time to look into treatments.
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How Is It Treated
In many cases you can first use the RICE approach to treat your ankle:
- R est. You may need to use crutches until you can walk without pain.
- I ce. For at least the first 24 to 72 hours or until the swelling goes down, apply an ice pack for 10 to 20 minutes every hour or two during the day. Always keep a thin cloth between the ice and your skin, and press the ice pack firmly against all the curves of the affected area.
- C ompression. An elastic compression wrap, such as a tensor bandage, will help reduce swelling. You wear it for the first 24 to 36 hours. Compression wraps do not offer protection. So you also need a brace to protect your ankle if you try to put weight on it.
- E levation. Raise your ankle above the level of your heart for 2 to 3 hours a day if possible. This helps to reduce swelling and bruising.
If you are not taking any prescription pain relievers, you may want to take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce pain and swelling.
If your ankle is still unstable after rehab, or if the ligament damage is severe, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair the torn ligaments.
Infographic Excerpt: The Rice Method For Ankle Sprain
While the exercises mentioned here can help restore your ankles range of motion, strength, and flexibility, it is important not to overdo them and let the sprain heal at its own pace. Attending to the sprain immediately with the RICE method can help accelerate the healing process. Check the infographic to learn how.
Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team
Exercises for a sprained ankle help rehabilitate this joint. However, you must not do the exercises listed above immediately after spraining your ankle. Instead, wait for the swelling to subside and get a go-ahead from the doctor for rehabilitation. Moreover, do not walk until the pain reduces. Otherwise, you may worsen your injury. The waiting period before the exercise differs depending on the extent of the injury, so consult a doctor immediately for an examination. When you are cleared for the exercises that help strengthen the ankle and foot muscles, ligaments, and tendons, do not do them without warming up first. Ideally, you will be able to walk without pain within 4-6 weeks.
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Sprained Ankle Recovery Time And What Affects It
Sprained ankle recovery time varies from case to case. If you are dealing with a normal sprained ankle, you shouldnt have to wait too long until youre healthy again. However, if youve done significant damage to the ankle, you could be resting it for a while. Heres a breakdown of what sprained ankle recovery time looks like, and what you should expect if you sprain your ankle.
Ankle Sprains Are Classified Into Three Grades:
Grade I is a minor stretching of one or more ligaments, accompanied by minimal swelling and pain. Individuals with a grade I sprain will walk with a normal gait and may experience mild stiffness at the ankle joint.
Treatment will be RICE Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation and patients will be able to resume full activity in 2 -4 weeks.
Grade II tears involve partial tearing of the ligament and there will be more swelling, pain, and bruising.
Patients with a grade II sprain will also require RICE along with a course of physical therapy. A walking boot or rigid ankle support is used for ambulation during the initial healing phase.
Grade III ankle sprains are much more severe because the ligament is fully torn. You may hear a popping sound when the injury occurs and there will be massive swelling and bruising.
It will be difficult or impossible to walk and the joint is very unstable. A complete tear of the ligament may require surgical repair known as a lateral ankle ligament reconstruction.
Its important to differentiate between an ankle sprain and a broken bone. Oftentimes, the inability to put weight on your foot may indicate a more severe problem such as a fracture and your doctor may recommend an x-ray or MRI.
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