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Ankle Sprains FAQ
A sprained ankle is essentially trauma to the connective tissues that hold the ankle joint in place.. ligament. Ligaments are the bodies strongest ‘connective’ structures, they are strong fibrous cords that bind bones to other bones. The primary damage in sprained ankles is usually damage to the ankle ligaments, although other tissues like tendon, joint capsule, fascia and blood vessels are most likely also affected in bad sprains.
The vast majority of sprained ankles or ‘rolled ankles’ involve ‘rolling over’ on the outside of the foot which damages the ligaments etc on the outside of the ankle. The severity of the sprain is essentially determined by how far the ankle joint rolls over and how much body weight is loaded through the ligaments.
Looking through a microscope at a sprained ankle you would see tears ranging from the extremely tiny and microscopic tears through to completely tears of the ligament. Looking holistically at the whole ankle foot and leg (the opposite of down a microscope) through the eyes of a trained health professional you would usually see signs of significant pre-existing weakness in ankles that get sprained, there is a lot more to most sprained ankles than bad luck.
It is likely that there is no single best sprained ankle treatment in the ‘one size fits all’ sense. There are however most definitely treatments that work on average far better than others. Discovering what the best sprained ankle treatment for you is often a bit of trial and error.
Excellent tools for treatment and prevention of sprained ankles include –
Hot & cold
Scar tissue stretches & guasha
Ankle sprain recovery time can vary from less than 3 weeks in mild sprains that are managed correctly through to ankles that take many years to recover. Permanent weakness and issues with chronic pain are more common than you might think after bad ankle sprains. If you are concerned about recovery time seek a professional who takes a hands on approach to your pain and have them move you towards a serious approach to rehabilitation. Loosely speaking the recovery time for ankle sprains are as follows.
Grade I Sprained Ankle
This grade of sprained ankle involves microscopic tears in the ligaments of the ankle. The symptoms generally include mild tenderness, mild swelling, and stiffness. The ankle feels relatively stable and it is usually possible to walk even immediately after the injury with moderate or minimal pain.
Grade 1 sprained ankles generally resolve in 1 – 3 weeks sometimes even without treatment. It is worth noting that multiple Grade 1 sprained ankles can set up a weakness in the ankle and should not be ignored. Repeat sprains is generally a sign of weakness as opposed to bad luck.
Grade II Sprained Ankle
A Grade II sprained ankle signifies a minor or partial tear with moderate pain, noteable swelling, and sometimes visible bruising . Although the ankle may feel relatively stable a Grade II sprained ankle can affect the way you walk. The injured area is usually very tender to the touch, and walking is painful.
The recovery time for Grade II sprained ankles varies a great deal and is influenced by many factors. If you are tracking well and your body is not struggling to heal you should most definitely be improving. Planning to be moving well and without pain or limitation in day to day movements within 4-6 weeks is a good start point.
Grade III Sprained Ankle
A Grade III sprained ankle is a major injury, involving a complete tear of a ligament or of multiple ankle ligaments. Grade III ankle sprains all have a significant recovery time that starts with dramatic swelling, joint immobility and visible bruising. The ankle is unstable and usually meaningful weight bearing is not possible due to intense pain.
Even under ideal circumstance it is still perfectly normal for Grade III sprained ankles to take several months just to heal and be relatively pain free. Recovery to full strength after a Grade III ankle sprain is something that warrants the intention of being worked on for years not months. This is due to the likelihood of recurrence and long standing pain syndromes.