The 3 Stages of Ankle Sprain Recovery
After being diagnosed by X-ray or MRI, an ankle sprain may require crutches, castboots, or air splints. Usually, swelling and pain last 2-3 days, but the whole healing process takes 4-6 weeks. You may be advised to incorporate motion during the healing process to prevent stiffness. Surgery is usually not required to treat even the most chronic tear, as long as the ankle is properly immobilized.
Grades 1 and 2 use the “RICE” guidelines: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, although Grade 2 requires additional healing time. Grade 3 sprains rarely need surgery; but they are at risk for permanent instability, and may require a short leg cast or cast-brace for 2-3 weeks.
Ankle Sprains Recover in 3 Phases:
- Rest and protection
- Motion, strength and flexibility
- A gradual return to safe activities
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are effective for pain and inflammation.
Ankle Sprain Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation is used to help decrease pain and swelling and prevent chronic ankle problems. It may involve ultrasound and electrical stimulation, active range of motion or controlled movements, water exercises, lower extremity exercises and endurance activities. Proprioception training is important to increase strength, range of motion, and balance, to help avoid a repeat strain or unstable ankle.
Prevention of Ankle Sprains
Warming up, awareness of unstable surfaces, proper footwear, and attention to your body’s pain or fatigue warning signs are the best ways to prevent ankle sprains.