A woman holding her ankle with both hands after a twist

What’s the best way to recover from a sprained ankle?

A sprained ankle is known to be one of the most common types of injuries that lead people to see a doctor. The majority of sprained ankles heal well, although in more severe cases, it can take several months before the ankle fully recovers.

A sprained ankle is the result of injuring one or more of the ligaments around the ankle joint. Ankle sprains can happen when the foot is twisted beyond its normal range of motion. The result of this can lead to a stretching or tearing of the ligaments that support your joint.

Ankle sprains can be particularly painful, but with simple self-care advice, most people see improvement within a few weeks and get back to normal in a few months.

What are the symptoms of a sprained ankle?

While this depends on the severity of the injury, symptoms can include the following:

  • Bruising
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Restricted movement
  • Difficulty putting weight on the foot
  • Instability of the ankle
  • A popping or tearing sound at the time of the injury

So, when it comes to this particular injury, what is the best way to recover from a twisted ankle, is a question many people will have asked at one time or another. Here is a range of ways that a twisted or sprained ankle can be treated:


What can I do to self-help with a sprained ankle?

There is a lot that can be done in terms of people helping themselves when it comes to easing the symptoms within the first few days. Doctors, nurses and physiotherapists will probably advise you to follow the advice outlined below.


What medicines can I take to help a twisted ankle?

Taking over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol, can help to relieve the pain associated with a sprained ankle. A doctor might give a prescription for codeine to work alongside paracetamol. Two days after the injury, doctors may well recommend taking ibuprofen as a means of twisted ankle recovery to assist in reducing the swelling around the affected ankle. It’s not advised to use ibuprofen and other similar medicines in the 48-hours after your injury as they can delay healing.

Ibuprofen and other similar medicines can also come in forms that you put directly onto your skin. These are fine to apply from the time of injury and may help to alleviate the pain.

Always read the patient information that comes with your medicine and if you have questions, ask your pharmacist or doctor for advice.


Will I need physiotherapy for a twisted ankle?

In the more severe cases, a sprained ankle may benefit from physiotherapy. The aim of this is to keep the ankle moving, to avoid stiffness, as well as to strengthen the muscles and joint around the ankle. The combination of these factors means you’re less likely to sprain your ankle again. Physios may ask a patient to focus on building strength and mobility via coordination exercises and balance training and completion of this will help gain recovery.


Will I need surgery for a sprained ankle?

This is reserved more for the extremely rare cases. Doctors are still to fully conclude on whether surgery is better than nonsurgical treatments for severe ankle sprains. If the ankle is severely sprained or remains unstable and prone to repeated sprains, a doctor may advise surgery. Surgery is typically used for high-performance athletes.

If pain persists, and treatment is not effective, a doctor may recommend visiting an orthopaedic surgeon.


How do I recover from a twisted ankle?

While frustrating, it’s generally best to accept that it may possibly take several months before normal activities can be resumed after an ankle sprain. The majority of ankle sprains heal completely and cause no long-term issues.

Recovery time depends on each individual case and its severity. However, typically, a mildly sprained ankle may permit walking within the first two weeks after the injury. Full movement of the ankle without any pain is possible within six to eight weeks. Resuming sport and other activity can usually be started within eight to 12 weeks.

Moderately sprained ankles can mean that it takes two to three months to fully recover.

If the sprain is severe it can take between eight and 12 months to recover completely. People with a severe sprain, do, on occasion, experience permanent damage to their ankle which may cause it to remain unstable and painful.

It’s best to ask a doctor or physiotherapist when’s safe to take up normal activities again, including sports. Returning prematurely can lead to injuring the area again and can result in long-term problems with the ankle.

Concerns about how long it’s taking to recover, or worsening of symptoms, should be consulted with a doctor or physiotherapist.

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