Whatever the cause of your ankle sprain is, one thing’s for sure: it puts a stopper on your daily activities and exercise routine because, well, it hurts. We bet you just can’t wait to get back up 100% on your feet again.
That’s why you’re here; you want to find out exactly how long does a sprained ankle take to heal so that you can do the things you want to do without pain or limitations.
But before we get into that…
How do you know if you sprained your ankle?
Signs and symptoms include:
Pain, especially when you bear weight on the affected foot
Tenderness when you touch the ankle
Restricted range of motion
What does a sprained ankle look and feel like?
The site of the ankle sprain will be painful, and at times, swollen and bruised. Often, the affected area will also be tender to touch and may feel unstable.
Do pay close attention to whether you’re experiencing any instability or “wobbly” sensations in the ankle as that might indicate a ligament tear or a dislocation of the ankle joint.
Also, if there is a popping sensation or a sound at the time of injury, that could mean severe tearing. Though the symptoms of a severe tear and severe sprain may be similar, it’s advisable to schedule an appointment with your doctor ASAP.
Grade 1: minimal stretching, mild pain with no tear, bruises, joint instability and difficulty in bearing weight.
1 to 3 weeks
Grade 2: partial tear with moderate pain, swelling and tenderness; possible bruising with mild to moderate instability; some loss of range of motion and function, and pain when walking and/or weight-bearing
3 to 6 weeks
Grade 3: Full tear or rupture with severe pain, swelling, tenderness and bruising; considerable instability, loss of function and range of motion, and inability to bear weight or walk.
Up to several months
How to treat a sprained ankle
Hopefully, by now you’ve realized that your sprain is indeed a sprain and not a tear, dislocation, or fracture — which is amazing!
This means that you can now move on to the next part — the healing process.
We sought the professional opinion of physiotherapists Resshaya Roobini and Jared Beckstrand regarding sprained ankle treatments at home:
The PRICE is right
As with all injuries, the best and smartest thing to do is to practice the PRICE (or RICE) method. This entails:
Protection: protect the affected area by using support.
Rest: avoid exercise until your doctor’s appointment, and reduce physical activity.
Ice: if you notice inflammation in the affected area, apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.
(Physiotherapist Roobini advises, “If you don’t have a cold pack, it’s always good to have a bag of frozen peas to use as a substitute. Ensure that you place the ice pack over a towel or cloth and not directly on the skin as it may result in ice burns.”)
Compression: if needed, limit swelling by using compression bandages.
Elevation: keep the affected area elevated (above the heart) whenever possible.
Do note that you shouldn’t jump into this method right away, especially after you’ve just sustained a sprain.
It’s safe to wait until at least three days from the day of injury before you attempt any ankle exercises to support rehabilitation.
Here are some home exercises you can do at home to expedite your recovery:
If the pain gets a little too much to bear, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin IB) or naproxen sodium (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be able to help.
Do consult a medical practitioner before you do, though, as studies have shown that although medications may be used to reduce pain and swelling, usage is not without complications and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may suppress the natural healing process.
Is there a better and faster way to treat a sprained ankle at home?
According to Roobini, self-massaging the area would be a therapeutic pain relief measure. Even ankle exercises that treat sprains often incorporate massages in them. But is there a method that takes both the trouble and pain away?
In the case of using a massage gun on an ankle sprain, the objective is to mobilize the joint and increase range of motion.
How to use the Hydragun on your ankle:
Slot the ball head into the Hydragun massage gun, and turn the device on.
Using the lowest speed setting, start by gliding the Hydragun all over your soles for 30 seconds.
Then, massage the area above your ankles for another 30 seconds, but remember to avoid the bony areas.
Next, gently float the Hydragun around the affected area for 30 seconds, paying extra care not to agitate or aggravate the pain.
Repeat as many times as preferred or when needed.
End the massage with a gentle ankle stretch.
Do not use on severely inflamed ankles. See a doctor if the pain is unbearable or if you’re experiencing a total loss of function in your ankle and especially if the ankle pain persists for more than 3 months.
Sprained ankles aside, the Hydragun can also help with pain management and other injuries. Watch a testimonial from Jonathon, who successfully recovered from Plantar Fasciitis with the help of Hydragun: