What is the Recovery Time for Sprained Ankle
An ankle sprain is an injury to the ligaments in the ankle, which connect the bones in the ankle joint. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that help to hold the bones together and provide stability to the joint.
Sprained ankles are a common injury that can occur in an assortment of ways. Their healing can take a significant amount of time, which can have an impact on your mobility and ability to participate in certain activities. In this article, we will discuss the causes of ankle sprains, the types of ankle sprains, how sprained ankles are treated, the recovery time for a sprained ankle, and how OPA Ortho can help.
How Do Ankle Sprains Happen? (Causes)
The causes of ankle sprains can vary depending on the type of sprain and the specific circumstances of the injury. Ankle sprains can happen in a variety of ways, but some common causes include:
- Rolling or Twisting the Ankle: This is the most common cause of lateral ankle sprains and occurs when the foot is suddenly turned inward or outward, causing the ligaments on the outside of the ankle to stretch or tear.
- Direct Blow to the Ankle: A direct blow to the ankle, such as from a fall or a collision, can cause a medial or high ankle sprain. This can cause the ligaments on the inside of the ankle or those connecting the tibia and fibula to stretch or tear.
- Landing on foot in an Awkward Position: Jumping or landing on foot in an awkward position, such as landing on the heel or the outside of the foot, can cause a sprain. This is often seen in athletes who participate in sports that involve jumping or running.
- Weak Ankle Muscles: People with weak ankle muscles may be more susceptible to sprains because the muscles are not able to support the joint as effectively.
- Poor Balance: People with poor balance may be more prone to ankle sprains because they may be more likely to lose their footing and twist their ankles.
- Uneven Surfaces: Walking or running on uneven surfaces, such as rocky terrain or poorly maintained sidewalks, can increase the risk of ankle sprains.
- Improper Footwear: Wearing shoes that do not fit properly or provide adequate support can increase the risk of ankle sprains.
Types of Ankle Sprains
There are different types of ankle sprains, which are classified based on the severity of the injury and the specific ligament or ligaments that are affected.
The most common type of ankle sprain is a lateral ankle sprain, which occurs when the ligaments on the outside of the ankle are stretched or torn. This type of sprain is often caused by rolling or twisting the ankle and is often seen in athletes who participate in sports that involve running, jumping, or cutting (a sudden change of direction maneuver).
Another type of ankle sprain is a medial ankle sprain, which occurs when the ligaments on the inside of the ankle are stretched or torn. This type of sprain is less common than lateral ankle sprains and is often caused by a direct blow to the ankle or by landing on foot in an awkward position.
A third type of ankle sprain is a high ankle sprain, which occurs when the ligaments that connect the tibia and fibula (the two bones in the lower leg) are stretched or torn. This type of sprain is relatively rare and is often caused by a direct blow to the ankle or by a sudden twisting motion.
How Is A Sprained Ankle Treated?
The treatment for ankle sprains typically involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation (the R.I.C.E method). This can help to reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain in the affected area. Over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen can also be taken to help with pain management.
Physical therapy may also be recommended to help strengthen the muscles and ligaments in the ankle and improve the range of motion. A brace or splint can also be used to provide support and stability to the ankle during the healing process.
In severe cases, surgery may be required to repair torn ligaments or other injuries. However, most people with ankle sprains are able to recover with conservative treatment.
Sprained Ankle Recovery Time
Sprained ankle recovery time can vary depending on the severity of the injury and the type of sprain. Mild sprains may take a few days to a couple of weeks to heal, while moderate to severe sprains may take several weeks to several months to recover.
Ankle sprain recovery can include rest, physical therapy, and exercises to help strengthen the muscles and ligaments in the ankle. It is important to follow the treatment plan and advice of a healthcare professional to ensure proper recovery and prevent re-injury.
It’s important to note that full recovery may take up to 6-12 months, and some people may continue to experience pain or instability in the ankle after the initial healing process is complete. In these cases, ongoing treatment, such as physical therapy, may be recommended to help manage symptoms and improve function.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Difference Between a Sprained Ankle and a Broken Ankle?
A sprained ankle and a broken ankle are different types of injuries, but they can have similar symptoms.
A sprained ankle is an injury to the ligaments in the ankle joint. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect the bones in the ankle joint and provide stability. A sprain occurs when these ligaments are stretched or torn. Symptoms of a sprained ankle can include pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty walking or bearing weight on the affected foot.
On the other hand, a broken ankle, also known as a fracture, is an injury to one or more of the bones in the ankle joint. This can happen as a result of a direct impact or from a twisting motion that causes the bone to break. Symptoms of a broken ankle can include severe pain, swelling, bruising, difficulty walking, and a visible deformity in the ankle.
It can be difficult to differentiate a sprained ankle from a broken ankle just by symptoms, a proper diagnosis can only be made by a healthcare professional through a physical examination, x-ray, or other imaging tests.
In general, sprained ankle recovery time can take several days to several weeks, while a broken ankle may take several weeks to several months to heal. In severe cases, surgery may be required.
Do I need Physical Therapy after an Ankle Sprain?
Physical therapy can be an important part of the recovery process after an ankle sprain. The main goals of physical therapy are to reduce pain, improve the range of motion, and strengthen the muscles and ligaments in the ankle. A physical therapist will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that may include exercises to help increase flexibility and strength in the ankle, as well as balance and proprioception exercises to improve overall stability.
Physical therapy can be beneficial for people who have a sprained ankle, as it can help to reduce the risk of re-injury, improve overall function, and hasten recovery.
If you are suffering from a sprained ankle, your healthcare provider may recommend you to see a physical therapist, especially if you have a severe sprain or have a high risk of re-injury.
It’s important to note that not all patients with ankle sprains require physical therapy, it depends on the severity of the injury, the type of sprain, and the patient’s history of ankle sprains. The healthcare professional will evaluate and determine the best course of action for your specific case.
How Long will my Sprained Ankle be Swollen?
The duration of swelling after an ankle sprain can vary depending on the severity of the injury. In general, swelling is usually at its worst in the first few days after the injury and then gradually subsides over the next several days to weeks.
For mild sprains, swelling may last for a few days, while moderate to severe sprains can take several weeks for the swelling to subside. It can take up to 6-8 weeks for the swelling to resolve completely.
It’s important to keep in mind that the swelling can last longer if the injury is not properly treated or if the person does not follow a proper rehabilitation program.
To help reduce swelling, it’s important to follow the R.I.C.E method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) in the first 48 hours after the injury. Applying ice to the ankle for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day can help to reduce inflammation and pain. Compression bandages or an ankle brace can also be used to help reduce swelling. Elevating the ankle above the level of the heart can also help to reduce swelling by allowing gravity to drain the excess fluid away from the ankle.
It’s important to follow the advice of a healthcare professional, who will be able to evaluate your injury and provide a more accurate estimate of the duration of swelling, as well as provide guidance on appropriate treatment and rehabilitation.
How OPA Ortho Can Help
OPA Ortho can help you with any questions you may have about ankle sprains.
We have a variety of resources to assist you in understanding the causes and treatment options of your ankle strain, as well as methods and treatments to get you moving again with less pain. Contact us today to see how we can assist you.