Generally, a sprained ankle heals within 2 to 12 weeks of home management with proper rest, ice application, compression and elevation of the foot (the RICE approach). However, a sprained ankle may take longer to heal depending on the severity of the sprain.
- Mild sprain, also called grade I sprain, involves slight stretching or microscopic tearing of the ligament fibers. It may heal within one to four weeks with proper care at home.
- Moderate sprain, also called grade II sprain, involves partial tears in the ligament. This type of sprain requires medical attention and may take about six to eight weeks to heal with proper care.
- A severe sprain also called grade III sprain, involves a complete tear of the ligament. It may take anywhere between 12 and 24 weeks to heal with proper medical care.
Thus, besides the type of sprain, provided care and treatment also determine the time taken to heal. Moreover, healing time may further depend on your general health and the presence of any underlying conditions, such as obesity or arthritis.
What is an ankle sprain?
An ankle sprain is a type of injury that involves excessive stretching or tears in the ligaments that support the ankle. It is one of the most common sports injuries (about 25 percent of all sports injuries) and affects about two million people each year.
Nearly everyone has had an unpleasant encounter with an ankle sprain while running, playing or moving around. It is painful to even recall that awkward step or twisting of the ankle on an uneven road or a hole, turning physical activity into a nightmare.
Your ankle along with the foot bears the weight of most of your body. Ligaments are strong, tough, ropy soft tissue structures that help maintain the stability and strength of the ankle joint. They connect the bones involved in the ankle joint to each other and cartilage to joints.
Several ligaments are present in the ankle, but the one most commonly injured is the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL). This ligament is present on the outside (laterally) of the ankle. Most types of ankle sprain involve rolling outward of the ankle coupled with the inward turning of the foot. This mainly injures the ligaments present on the lateral side. When the ankle rolls inward with the foot turning outward, the ligaments on the inner side may be damaged.
How do you treat a sprained ankle?
Treatment of a sprained ankle mainly depends on the severity of the injury but typically involves:
- Taking adequate rest and avoiding weight-bearing on the affected foot.
- Application of ice or cold packs for 10 to 20 minutes three to four times a day.
- Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
- Applying an elastic compression wrap or bandage.
- Elevating the affected foot above the heart level for two to three hours each day or as often as possible during the first 48 to 72 hours of injury.
- Medications to relieve pain and swelling, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- Wearing an ankle brace or splint to protect the ankle during movement.
- A protective cast may be required to wear for weeks in some cases.
- Rehabilitation exercises such as strengthening, endurance and agility exercises.
- Rarely, surgery may be required for people whose sprained ankle does not improve with conservative treatment.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top How Long Does a Sprained Ankle Take to Heal Related Articles
Ankle Pain (Tendonitis)Ankle pain is commonly due to a sprain or tendinitis. The severity of ankle sprains ranges from mild (which can resolve within 24 hours) to severe (which can require surgical repair). Tendinitis of the ankle can be caused by trauma or inflammation.
Dislocated Ankle (Ankle Dislocation)Symptoms and signs of a dislocated ankle include pain, swelling, bruising, ankle deformity, and possible numbness and tingling in the foot. Treatment of an ankle dislocation involves putting the ankle bones back in their normal positions, possible using gentle traction. The blood and nerve supply to the foot will be evaluated and the ankle will be checked for any related fractures. The ankle will be fitted with a splint or a cast.
Foot Health: Causes of Swollen Feet and AnklesSwollen feet and ankles may be associated with conditions like pregnancy, injury, heart failure, kidney disease, liver disease, chronic venous insufficiency, and lymphedema. Treatment may include home remedies, exercise, magnesium, and certain medications.
How Bad Is a Grade II Hamstring Strain?Grade II hamstring strain, known as a partial tear, is typically more painful and may result in some swelling or bruising. The injury should heal on its own with rest and proper physiotherapy.
How Can You Tell a Sprain From a Strain?A sprain is an injury to a ligament and a strain is an injury to a tendon. You can tell the difference between a sprain and a strain due to the location of the injury, the anatomical structures involved, and the symptoms.
How Do You Get Rid of Swollen Feet and Ankles?Learn what medical treatments can help with swollen feet and ankles and speed up your recovery from swollen feet and ankles.
How Long Does It Take for a Muscle Strain to Heal?A muscle strain occurs when muscle fibers are overstretched and tear. Learn more about muscle strains, how muscle strains happen, muscle strain symptoms, muscle strain diagnosis, and muscle strain treatment options.
Is a Muscle Strain the Same as a Muscle Tear?What is the difference between a muscle strain and a muscle tear?
Is My Muscle Pulled or Strained?A pulled muscle is sometimes used as a colloquial term for a strain of moderate severity. A muscle becomes strained when it’s twisted, pulled, or torn in two.
Sprains and StrainsAn injury to a ligament is called a sprain, and an injury to muscle or tendon is called a strain. Sprains and strains may be caused by repetitive movements or a single stressful incident. Symptoms and signs include pain and swelling. Though treatment depends upon the extent and location of the injury, rest, ice, compression, and elevation are key elements of treatment.
What Causes Swollen Feet and Swollen Ankles?Swollen ankles and swollen feet is a symptom of an underlying disease or condition such as edema, medications, pregnancy, injuries, diseases, infections, lymphedema, or blood clots.
What Are the Benefits of Ankle Taping and Bracing?The concept of prophylactic (preventative) ankle wrapping was introduced more than 60 years ago to prevent or reduce the severity of ankle injuries. Tape or a brace may be applied before practice or a competition. Ankle bracing and taping should be done under the guidance of a sports medicine physician or a training athletic staff.
What Is the Reduction of an Ankle Dislocation?An abnormal separation between the bones of a joint is called a dislocation. When this happens to the ankle joint, it is called an ankle dislocation. Sometimes, a surgeon may need to align the bones back in place through the surgery under general anesthesia to let them heal correctly. This is called reduction.
When Are Ankle Splints Used?Splints are primarily used to stabilize injuries to bones until the patient can be evaluated by a consultant, such as an orthopedic surgeon. Ankle splints are applied to minimize movement and provide support and comfort by stabilizing an injury at the ankle joint. Immobilizing the joint reduces pain and helps the injury heal faster.