Sprained ankle

A sprained ankle is an injury often associated with wearing high-heeled shoes. The ankle is typically sprained when you twist it or fall – usually affecting the outside of the ankle as it has the greatest mobility.

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What Does a Sprained Ankle Mean?

A sprain of the ankle occurs when your ankle is forced out of its normal position – causing one or more of the ankle’s ligaments to be stretched, partially or completely torn. A sprained ankle can also be called an ankle distortion. It is much more common for the outside to be affected than the inside – about 90 percent of all ankle sprains affect the outside of the ankle. Common causes of a sprained ankle include: – Falling and twisting your ankle – Landing awkwardly after a jump – Rolling your ankle – Someone else landing or stepping on your foot

Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle

The severity of your ankle sprain depends on how damaged and unstable the joint becomes. The more severe the sprain, the longer the recovery time. An ankle sprain can be divided into three grades: mild grade 1 to severe grade 3 injury. Most people who sprain their ankle have a mild grade 1 injury.

Here’s how the symptoms look at the different grades:

Ankle Sprain – Grade 1

With a grade 1 ankle sprain, one or more ligaments are overstretched but not torn. You have mild pain, swelling, and tenderness over the ankle. Usually, you do not experience any instability in the joint or have any visible bruises. You can stand and walk with mild discomfort. The recovery time for a grade 1 injury is approximately 1–3 weeks.

Ankle Sprain – Grade 2

A grade 2 sprain of the ankle is slightly more severe – the ligament is partially torn. You have mild to moderate pain, swelling, and tenderness over the ankle. Often, you get a visible bruise on the injured area, which usually appears most prominently the day after the injury. You may experience mild to moderate instability in the ankle, leading to some restriction of movement and function. When standing and walking, the pain is often noticeable. The recovery time for a grade 2 injury is approximately 3–6 weeks.

Ankle Sprain – Grade 3

With a grade 3 ankle sprain, the ligament is completely torn. You often experience severe pain, swelling, and bruising in the injured area, as well as significant instability and severely impaired function and movement in the ankle. You will have difficulty supporting or walking on the foot. The recovery time for a grade 3 injury can take 3–6 months.

Important to Know about a Sprained Ankle

  • It hurts when you sprain your ankle – it’s common to start limping to avoid pain.
  • Your ankle often swells above and around the outer ankle bone. A small bruise may also occur around the injured area.
  • When pressure is applied to the ligaments around the ankle bone, reduced mobility and pain occur, usually in front of or below the ankle bone.
  • Balance and strength in the foot may decrease due to pain and swelling.
  • If you cannot support your foot, there is a fracture risk. If you suspect this, the foot needs to be X-rayed.
  • Swelling around the ankle can persist for several months, so seeking help early is essential!


Acute Treatment

Treatment of a sprained ankle begins immediately after the injury and will affect how long the healing time will be. You can save weeks of rehabilitation and pain with prompt and proper treatment.

The first goal after the injury is to reduce pain swelling, and protect the ligaments from further damage. In acute treatment, it is recommended to use the Price regimen – Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation.

  1. Protection – Unload and protect the sprained ankle from further damage. You can do this by using, for example, an ankle brace or support, taping the injury, or crutches.
  2. Rest – If you experience severe pain and swelling, rest your ankle as much as possible for the first 24 to 48 hours. After that, it is important to start loading the ankle at a moderate level. The purpose is to maintain the normal range of motion, preventing scar tissue.
  3. Ice – If you experience pain in the ankle, you can apply cold to the area with, for example, an ice pack or frozen peas. Apply cold to the foot for 20 minutes every other hour. It’s important to note that cold only helps with pain and does not affect swelling.
  4. Compression – Wrapping the sprained foot with an elastic bandage to reduce swelling is good. Compression of the injured area relieves both pain and reduces swelling.
  5. Elevation – Keeping the foot elevated also helps reduce swelling. Therefore, try to keep the foot elevated when sitting and lying down.

Follow-up Treatment

It's important to return to your normal daily activities along with training and ankle support as soon as possible.

  • Training: to recover and regain normal stability, strength, and mobility, training is important. Generally, you can start with movement and stretching exercises within 48 hours after the injury – and then continue with training until you are completely pain-free and the foot’s function is restored.
  • Support: use ankle support, braces, or tape to relieve and reduce the risk of re-spraining. The choice of ankle support depends on the severity of the injury, how painful and unstable the ankle is, and the activity you want to perform.
  • Shoes: Use stable shoes where the midsole supports movement when walking. If you’re going to wear high-heeled shoes, they must have an orthopedic inside with a stable heel.
  • Orthopedic Insoles: can provide increased stability, support, and shock absorption to relieve sprained ankles.

Healing Time for a Sprained Ankle

Most people fully recover after spraining their ankle. In the case of a mild sprain, grade 1, the pain is likely to decrease within a few weeks, and the foot can tolerate more pressure. For grade 2 and 3 sprains, it may take several months before you are fully recovered. About thirty percent still experience discomfort after six months and up to a year after the injury.