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Ankle sprains are common injuries that can result in long-term problems. Some people with repeated or severe sprains can develop lifelong joint pain and weakness. Treating a sprained ankle can help prevent ongoing ankle problems.
Grades of Ankle Sprains
After the examination, your doctor will determine the grade of your sprain to help develop a treatment plan. Sprains are graded based on how much damage has occurred to the ligaments.
Grade 1 Sprain (Mild)
- Slight stretching and microscopic tearing of the ligament fibers
- Mild tenderness and swelling around the ankle
- In mild cases, you can expect full ligament healing within 2 to 3 weeks, but it will take at least six weeks for full scar tissue maturation.
Grade 2 Sprain (Moderate)
- Partial tearing of the ligament
- Moderate tenderness and swelling around the ankle
- If the doctor moves the ankle in certain ways, there is an abnormal looseness of the ankle joint
In most cases, these injuries result in a recovery period of 4 to 6 weeks. With increasing injury severity, the rehabilitation process becomes more complex and extensive.
All Grade 2 injuries should be thoroughly rehabilitated to enable:
- full range of motion and strength
- full proprioception, power, and agility
- full return to sport-specific drills
Grade 3 Sprain (Severe)
- A complete tear of the ligament
- Significant tenderness and swelling around the ankle
- If the doctor pulls or pushes on the ankle joint in certain movements, substantial instability occurs
The rehabilitation of a Grade 3 ankle sprain normally takes 6 to 12 weeks but is quite variable depending on your specific injury. Your physiotherapist or surgeon will be able to provide you with more specific guidelines and advice.