Recovery from an ankle sprain is complete when the following goals have been met:

       1. Function is restored to the affected ankle.
       2. Joint stability and strength have been regained.
       3. Daily activities, including sports, can be completed without soreness, swelling and/or pain.

The length of time for recovery from an ankle sprain will depend on the severity of injury.

Mild sprains take 2-3 days before stiffness and pain subsides. Strict adherence to a proper treatment plan during the first day or two following the injury improves chances for a rapid and complete recovery. When walking, the ankle needs the support of a stirrup brace or splint.

Moderate sprains may require 1-3 weeks of treatment while gradually returning to activities. If, at this point, there continues to be swelling and instability during activity, an orthopedic surgeon should be consulted. Full recovery from ankle sprains should occur within 5-8 weeks of the injury. During this time, the ankle should be supported with a protective lace-up or stirrup brace.

Severe sprains sprains require 6-12 months to heal completely. With protective taping and/or bracing, it is possible to resume athletic activity before this time, but the risk of re-injury is higher. Athletes should not return to sports until rehabilitation is complete, since risk for re-injury is great. A re-injury would make it less likely that the ankle would recover the same strength that existed before injury.

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