How Long Does A Sprain Take To Heal? – 5 Easy Steps You Should Know
Getting a sprain can be one of the worst things that can happen to a runner. According to statistics, about 25,000 people get ankle sprains daily in the US. (1) The good news is with proper treatment, you can be back on your feet in no time. How long does a sprain take to heal? Well, it depends on many factors that we will discuss in this article.
The Degree Of The Sprain
The degree of the sprain can be categorized into three:
First Degree Sprains
This occurs when your ligaments have stretched but have not torn. Joint stability remains good in this kind of sprain. (2)
- Mild pain and swelling
- Little bruising
- Joint stiffness
- Difficulty walking or doing other physical activities
Second Degree Sprains
This is one of the most common types of sprain wherein there is a partial tear of the ligament. (3)
- Moderate pain
- A lot of swelling
- Inability to use the ankle
- Difficulty walking
This is the most severe type of sprain in which the muscle has totally been torn (4)
- Inability to walk
- Significant pain
- Severe swelling
Treatment Of Sprains
Another factor that greatly influences the recovery time of an ankle sprain is the treatment methods used. The faster you apply the recommended P.R.I.C.E, the faster your ankle will heal. (5)
- P - Protection
- R - Rest
- I - Ice
- C - Compression
- E - Elevation
Protecting the area from further sprain is the first and foremost treatment method that determines the duration of your recovery. This can be done by using a self-strapping ankle sprain protection tape. Another remedy is using crutches properly instead of walking on the sprained ankle.
How to use a self-strapping
How to use crutches
The second most important recovery method is staying away from any physical activities within the first few days of your sprain.
Making use of ice compress can help neutralize the initial pain of the injury. You can simply make one at home with a solution of alcohol and water. Some also recommend using natural cures such as coconut oil and turmeric at this stage. (6)
How to make ice pack
Using an ankle wrap helps the swelling decrease while keeping the joint stable during recovery. Elastic bandages can be used but it is important that you wrap the bandage the right way.(7)
How to compress ankle sprain
Elevating the injured foot so that it is above or at the level of your heart helps reduce swelling. If too much blood collects in the injured area, recovery may take longer. (8) Simply prop your foot with a few pillows
Aside from the degree of the injury and the treatment method used, additional factors affecting the recovery time include:
Age Of Person
The loss of muscle mass is one of the conditions the body faces with age. Oxytocin is one of the hormones that promotes muscle regeneration and this hormone is produced in lower quantities as we age. This means the older you are, the longer recovery time may be. (9)
General Health And Medication
Drugs such as immunosuppressants have been shown to slow down the recovery and repair process in the body. Using NSAID’s such as Ibuprofen can also cause a slower recovery for soft tissue. (10,11)
In addition, those who suffer from ailments such as diabetes also experience nerve problems that can cause foot numbness and increase their susceptibility to sprains. If you suspect that the trigger of your sprain was because of weak nerves and you experience muscle numbness, you ought to consult a physician.
Aside from these factors, the location of your sprain will have a big impact on how long it will take for your sprain to heal. Ankle sprains are among the most complicated and can be categorized into inversion sprains, eversion or outward sprain and high sprains. If you get a sprain on your ankle, it will take longer to heal than if you get it on your calves.
Obviously, the more severe sprain, the longer it will take to recover fully. If you quickly identify the degree of sprain you have and perform the first aid P.R.I.C.E method, you can expect to resume your sports activity: (12)
- First-degree sprains: 1 - 2 weeks
- Second-degree sprains: 3 - 6 weeks
- Third degree sprains: 8 - 12 months
Although this may vary depending on the aforementioned factors, it is a good gauge to know how long it will take for you to recover from your sprained ankle. However, before you return to your running routine, make sure you consult a physical who can perform a series of tests to make sure you are healed.
The question regarding how long it takes to recover from a sprained ankle cannot be conclusive. If you are in good health, don’t take immunosuppressant’s or NSAID’s and follow the recommended P.R.I.C.E method, you will be able to enjoy a faster recovery.
You can prevent further injury by always warming up before exercise, wearing good fitting footwear and keeping yourself in good physical health.
How did you enjoy our article? Have you had an ankle sprain in the past? How long did it take for it to heal? We’d love to hear your own experiences in the comments below. Also, please share this interesting article with family and friends.