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Ankle Sprains: What is the Recovery Time?

Aug 22

Thank you to one of our Drayer FB Fans for this week’s Blog Post Question on Ankle Sprains!

Question: What is typically the recovery period for a severe sprain to the ankle and foot plus severe bruising to the bone structure and ligaments in the foot and ankle?

Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments that support the ankle become stretched or torn.  These types of sprains can be tricky, and the recovery period depends on the level of activity to which you are trying to return, as well as the severity of the sprain that you have suffered.

The grades of ankle sprains are classified by the extent of damage to the ligaments:

Grade l: mild sprain with stretching and possible mild tearing of the ligaments – usually results in soreness without instability and possible mild swelling

Grade ll: moderate sprain with partial tearing of the ligaments – usually results in moderate pain, some joint instability and swelling with bruising throughout the ankle and foot

Grade lll: severe sprain with gross joint instability and possible ligamentous rupture – usually results in severe pain with significant swelling and extensive bruising

Avulsion fracture: instead of ligament stretching, one or more ligaments are torn away from the bone causing the bone to fracture in the process

In regard to return to sport, Grade l sprains typically take 2-4 weeks or more to regain full mobility and for swelling to fully resolve, whereas Grade II sprains, being a little more severe, make take more like 6-8 weeks. A grade III sprain or avulsion fraction recovery time depends on several factors. Some physical therapists and orthopedic physicians may determine that early immobilization in a walking boot is necessary to allow the ligaments time to heal in type II and III sprains. In the event that there is a full rupture or avulsion fracture, it is possible that surgery will be required to reconstruct the ligaments. In cases where surgery is required, the patient is typically in therapy for 12 weeks to 6 months before return to play is allowed with most sports that require weight bearing.

Always follow the advice of your physician and/or physical therapist and don’t push yourself to get back into the game or other activities more quickly than is recommended.

To learn more about ankle sprains, click here.