Sprained Ankle Recovery Time & Treatment
A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments supporting the ankle become overstretched or torn. An ankle sprain can range anywhere from mild to severe. The grade of an ankle sprain depends on the amount of damage to the ligaments.
At-Home Treatment for an Ankle Sprain
Once you injure your ankle, you need to begin using the RICE protocol right away:
- R – Rest your ankle.
- I – Ice your ankle (up to 30 minutes, four times a day). You should never place ice directly on your skin. Be sure to wrap the ice in a towel.
- C – Compression dressings to immobilize and support your ankle (i.e., bandage wraps).
- E – Elevate your ankle, especially during the initial 48 hours following your injury.
You can also use over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen to control your pain and reduce inflammation.
How Your Orthopedic Doctor Determines the Grade of Your Ankle Sprain
The orthopedic surgeons at Southeast Orthopedic Specialists frequently diagnose and treat individuals who have sprained their ankles.
- Grade 1 – If your sprain is mild, you will experience tenderness and swelling around your ankle.
- Grade 2 – Your ankle will be tender, swollen and bruised above and below its joint.
- Grade 3 – You will have a substantial amount of swelling around your ankle. In addition, your ankle will be very tender.
The Importance of Seeking Treatment for a Moderate to Severe Ankle Sprain
If you avoid seeking treatment for a moderate to severe sprained ankle, you are more likely to injure the ankle again at some point in the future. Recurrent ankle sprains can cause you to have long-term ankle problems. These problems may include arthritis, continued ankle pain and/or ankle instability. If you have sprained your ankle and need immediate care, contact Southeast Orthopedic Specialists at 904-394-BONE (2663). If you do not need care immediately, but you would like to make an appointment, please call (904) 634-0640 or request an appointment with our online form by clicking here.
The Three-Phase Program Orthopedic Surgeons Use to Treat Ankle Sprains
Whether you have a mild, moderate or severe ankle sprain, your orthopedic doctor will implement a three-phase program:
- Phase 1 – Rest and protect your ankle. Use ice and elevation to reduce the swelling.
- Phase 2 – Physical therapy treatments are ordered to restore your ankle’s range of motion, flexibility and strength.
- Phase 3 – Maintenance exercises will continue with a gradual return to performing activities that do not involve the twisting or turning of your ankle. Eventually, you will be able to return to fast-paced activities that require sudden movements to the left or right (i.e., football, tennis or basketball).
Initially, some patients need to use crutches to walk. Even so, in the majority of cases, the pain and swelling subsides enough for the patient to discontinue using the crutches within 3 days. You may receive an ankle brace from your orthopedic doctor. This brace keeps your ankle stable.
How long the three-phase program lasts depends on the severity of your ankle sprain. If your sprain is mild, you may complete the entire program in as little as 2 weeks. However, treatment for a more severe ankle sprain may last from 6 to 12 weeks.