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How Long Does It Take For An Ankle Sprain To Heal?

Dr. Sisson / March 20th, 2023

If you've recently suffered from an ankle sprain, it can keep you from walking, running, or doing other sporting activities that you enjoy. You may wonder how long it will take for your ankle sprain to heal so that you can get back to doing all those things that you want to do.

What Causes An Ankle Sprain?

Usually, it's caused by rolling your ankle inwards, which stretches or tears the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle.

Depending on the grade of ankle sprain, that determines how long an ankle sprain will take to heal.

Grades Of Ankle Sprains

Grade 1 (Mild) Ankle Sprain - Healing Time 1-3 Weeks

Grade 2 (Moderate) Ankle Sprain - Healing Time 4-6 weeks

Grade 3 (Severe) Ankle Sprain - Healing Time 7-12 weeks

How To Heal A Grade 1 Ankle Sprain

A mild ankle sprain or a grade one ankle sprain is where the ligaments are just stretched slightly, but they aren't torn.

here's no structural damage, and that type of ankle sprain usually recovers in one to three weeks.

During that time, there are a few things that you want to do to protect it.

In fact, the acronym is PRICE

  • Protection
  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

Those are useful during the acute phases of the ankle sprain, but for a grade one sprain, there's usually not a lot of structural damage.

Sometimes there isn't even a whole lot of swelling, so not all of those tips necessarily apply to a grade 1 ankle sprain.

Since there's no tearing of ligaments, and so a lot of times you don't need a brace if you're able to put weight on it comfortably.

You may not need to even ice it if there's no swelling. You might not need to compress it with an Ace Wrap, and you might not need to elevate it.

So that PRICE method really might not apply that much if you just have a very mild grade one ankle sprain.

How To Heal Chronic Ankle Pain

Now finally, what if you have ankle pain that's lasted longer than it should? Let's say you've gone past 12 weeks, and you're still having pain in your ankle. What do you do then?

By 12 weeks, your ligament should be very well healed up anatomically.

However, if you've had a severe ankle sprain where you've torn ligaments and maybe got some joints out of place, there's a joint up by your knee that gets injured.

In that case, it can get a nerve called your fibular nerve overly sensitized, and that can cause some lasting pain even after the tissues have still healed up.

If your tissues have healed, but you're still getting signals telling your brain that something's wrong down there, it's very likely that that nerves have gotten overly sensitized.

At that point, you definitely want to seek out treatment for your ankle sprain.

Seeing a physical therapist can help figure out if there are still some joint dysfunctions in your ankle to help you get your ankle moving again.

Often chronic ankle pain happens when an ankle sprain was poorly treated at the very outset. Maybe you didn't move it enough initially or you were told to be in a brace or a walking boot and not to do anything.

Sometimes, that fear of movement can actually make those nerves a little bit more sensitive.

Usually, ankle pain that's lasted longer than it should and become chronic past 12 weeks usually has to do with sensitive nerves.

Need Treatment For An Ankle Sprain?

If you have an ankle sprain that you either want to get moving quickly, or if you have an ankle sprain that's lasted past 12 weeks and you're still suffering, we'd be happy to help you find out what's wrong and what you need to do to get your ankle moving again so you can get back to all the activities you enjoy.

Give us a call at. (804) 493-3256 or schedule a free phone consultation here.