An ankle sprain is an injury to the ligaments connecting the tibia and fibula bones of your ankle. These ligaments are what hold your foot in place when you walk, run, or jump. When the ligaments are stretched, torn, or broken, they can no longer support your ankle and you experience pain, swelling, and a lack of mobility in that area.

Ankle injuries can cause chronic pain, looseness and arthritis. If you have a bad ankle injury or sprain, it’s important to see a doctor. If you can’t walk on your ankle, it’s important to get an x-ray to make sure you do not have a fracture. If you have a fracture, you will need to wait until it’s healed before you begin any kind of rehab program. But, if you do NOT have a fracture, you can begin a rehab program right away, unless your doctor tells you to wait for a specific reason.

Even if you have a grade 3 sprain (the most serious type of sprained ankle) and you cannot even walk on it, you can still begin a great ankle rehab program right away. Actually, research shows the sooner you begin a good ankle rehab program, the faster you will heal. In fact, NOT doing an ankle rehab program can lead to lifelong consequences, especially with a more sever sprain.

Symptoms: Swelling, bruising, pain, sensitivity, throbbing and instability.

How long does it take for a sprained ankle to heal?

Healing time depends on the severity of sprain. Without a good ankle rehab program, it normally takes about 4-8 weeks to get out of pain, but in up to 33% of cases, ankle pain persists for a year or more. (Evid Based Med 2008; 13 (6):187. Margo KL.)

It all comes down to how serious the sprain is (grade 1, 2 or 3) and what you do to heal your ankle. Remember, it will NOT heal by itself, so the sooner you begin a good rehab program, the better.

If you do a great rehab program like HEM Ankle Rehab, it usually takes a few days to heal:

Grade 1 sprain (walking with a slight limp and some pain): pain free in about 3-5 days

Grade 2 sprain (walking with a severe limp and a lot of pain): pain free in about 5-10 days

Grade 3 sprain (unable to walk due to severe pain in the ankle): pain free in about 7-10 days

If you do not follow a good rehab program and instead, just rely on rest and ice, healing times are significantly longer. Minimum healing times are about 4 weeks and can extend for months, years or even the rest of your life. And the worst part is that the ankle typically stays very weak and unstable, which significantly increases the risk of re-injury again and again. So, it is very important to follow a good ankle rehab program to heal fully and quickly.

What is the best way to treat a sprained ankle?

If you are suffering from ankle pain, there are a variety of things that can be done to help as a general treatment for a sprained ankle.

Resting for a period of time, while also following a good rehab program is ideal. You want to protect the ankle, while also restoring flexibility and range of motion and at the same time, increase the strengthening muscles and ligaments.

We do NOT recommend prolonged rest and almost never suggest that you ice a sprained ankle, unless medically necessary. Ice has been shown to disrupt and delay the healing process dramatically. While, ice can helpful as a short term pain reliever, we recommend much more beneficial strategies to actually increase healthy circulation and promote much faster and better healing of a sprained ankle.

In order to regain healthy range of motion, stability and strength, we recommend exercises for chronic sprained ankles should be done slowly and gently. Focus on very gentle stretches and exercises and never do anything that causes any pain. As the days go by, you will able to do more and more exercises with speed and power. If you are doing an ankle rehab program correctly, you will be able to progress quickly and challenge your ankle to more difficult and weight-bearing exercises shortly.

We also recommend NOT going back to sports and activities directly right after the pain stops. You should take at least another 1-2 weeks to continue rebuilding your ankle, so it is strong and stable, which will improve sports performance and reduce your risk of injury. It’s worth waiting a few extra days to properly treat a sprained ankle in order to protect yourself from another injury that could set you back again.

So, take a little bit of time and do a really good sprained ankle treatment, so you can heal fully and quickly. You will get out of pain much faster and reduce your risk of future injury. You can do it for a mild sprain or even a severe one when it’s difficult to walk. In fact, it’s the best thing to do if you can’t walk on an injured or sprained ankle!

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