A common ankle sprain is a stretch or tear of a ligament, the tough band of fibrous tissue that connects one bone to another. Ligaments are most often sprained by twisting the ankle joint and foot too far.
Ankle Sprain Types & Grades
The most common type of sprained ankle is a lateral ankle sprain, which occurs when you roll your foot outward from under you. Other types include an inversion ankle sprain, where your foot rolls inward; a medial ankle sprain, which occurs when your foot rolls inward; a high ankle sprain, and a supination (or eversion) ankle sprain, in which your ankle rolls outward.
Ankle sprains are graded on their severity: Grade 1 means there’s some stretching but no tearing; grade 2 means there’s some tearing but the ligament remains intact; and grade 3 means there’s complete tearing of the ligaments.
Anytime you get a sprained ankle, you will probably have some form of bruising wherever you sustained the injury (inside, outside, top of the ankle joint, etc.)… Bruising is caused by blood vessels rupturing and pooling under the skin. The blood vessels break because they are fragile and not able to withstand pressure from any direction.
The medical name for a bruise is contusion, and it’s also called a black-and-blue mark because it looks like someone has taken an inkpad and stamped it onto your skin. The main risk factors for extensive bruising are an increased vulnerability to injury due to age or infirmity, diabetes and other diseases that affect circulation.
Over time, the color of the bruising will change from dark purple to yellow as it begins to disappear as the body re-absorbs the blood back into the body.
Normally, a bruise is caused by a blunt force, such as falling or being hit or a sharp object, like a knife or needle. In either case, there is damage to the tissues that cause bleeding under the skin’s surface.
Sprained Ankle Bruising
In the case of an ankle sprain, the blood pools where the injury was sustained. Usually, you will see ankle bruising on the outside of the ankle joint, since most ankle sprains are inversion (ankle rolls inward and outside of the foot rolls outward in a twisting motion).
When you have an ankle sprain, bruising usually takes about 1-2 weeks to disappear, but in some cases, take longer. Assuming you do not have any underlying medical conditions, we normally tell people not to focus on the bruising.
Instead, it is far better to focus on healing the injured ankle. We have found that sustained ice and rest are not very good healing tools for an ankle sprain. Instead, it is far better to immediately start an excellent ankle rehab program to help remove swelling and bruising, naturally and quickly.
Get Your Ankle Diagnosed
Of course, before you begin any rehab program for an ankle injury, the first thing you should do is get an x-ray and make sure you do not have a broken bone. If so, you would immediately want to immobilize your ankle and do not bear weight on it as much as possible.
Usually, a broken bone would be due to a severe sprain and the ankle bone will have sustained enough trauma and force to fracture. In the case of a broken ankle, the bruising will probably be quite severe.
While we generally do not recommend an ankle brace, it your ankle is extremely unstable, then you should consider using an ankle brace until you are able to walk and move safely.
Ankle Sprain Treatment
Whether you have a broken bone or a common ankle sprain, you will eventually have to do some kind of ankle rehab…. this can take the form of physical therapy for your ankle or an at home ankle rehab program. The goal of a good physical therapy program is to improve range of motion, strength and stability in your ankle with high quality strengthening exercises, balance and a whole host of other healing techniques.
A focus on removing swelling and bruising should also be a focus of any good ankle rehab program after an ankle sprain, whether it is a more severe injury or not.
You can either go see a high quality physical therapist or do an excellent at home ankle rehab program, like HEM Ankle Rehab, which contains everything you need to heal your ankle sprain fully and fast at home and is also far faster and cheaper than going to a physical therapist. But, you should do whatever is best for you!
Continue to focus on how your ankle feels (you should be out of pain in about 5-10 days with a good ankle rehab program) and how you move. Don’t worry too much about the ankle bruising with an ankle sprain, because it should diminish and disappear after about 1-2 weeks at the most. If your ankle continues to improve in strength, stability and healthy range of motion, then you are on the right path.
The overall goal with any ankle sprain (whether it is a mild sprain or a severe injury) is to regain full mobility in your ankle joint and be 100% pain free. In addition, you should have such strong and stable ankles that you do NOT need ankle braces at all and yet, your ankle has a very high natural protection from future ankle sprains and injury.
That is the ultimate goal of healing an ankle sprain can only be achieved through an excellent ankle rehab program. So, as soon as you are ready to start ankle rehab, please get started ASAP, so you can heal that ankle bruising as well as the rest of the damage from the injury.