How Long Does It Take to Bounce Back From an Ankle Injury?

February 23, 2024
How Long Does It Take to Bounce Back From an Ankle Injury?

Ankle injuries are fairly common, especially among athletes. An ankle sprain can occur in several ways while playing any sport or simply going for a jog. While most athletes have suffered from an ankle injury at some point, not everyone knows how to assess their severity. Many people simply elect to “play through the pain” and not worry about seeking treatment or their recovery time. 

But if you’ve suffered a severe ankle injury, that is not an option. So, how long does it take to recover from an ankle injury? That depends on many factors.

Assessing the Severity of Ankle Injuries

When talking about ankle injuries, people often refer to ankle sprains. An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments surrounding the ankle bone get stretched or torn. These ligaments are often stressed when playing a sport or exercising, so sprains are quite common. Many sprains are minor and can heal on their own. 

Unfortunately, this tends to make people underestimate the severity of higher-level ankle sprains, which do require medical attention. When assessing the severity of an ankle sprain, medical professionals use a three-tiered grading system.

  • Grade 1 ankle sprains are minor injuries that can be treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Recovery time is usually a maximum of 2 to 3 weeks, with some recovering in a few days.
  • Grade 2 ankle sprains typically involve more structural damage to the ankle ligament. These can require a month of rest and recovery before resuming normal activities.
  • Grade 3 ankle sprains are the most severe. Grade 3 ankle sprains often involve a fully torn ligament and potential damage to the ankle bone as well. Grade 3 sprains should be looked at by a doctor for a full diagnosis and treatment plan. Recovery time might be 3 months or longer for a Grade 3 sprain.

Ankle Injury Symptoms

Most ankle injury symptoms are easily identifiable and impossible to ignore. Pain, swelling, and limited range of motion in the foot/ankle are the most easily recognizable symptoms.

Depending on the severity, other ankle injury symptoms may include a “popping” sensation, bruising, or an inability to put weight on the foot or ankle.

Ankle Injury Treatment

Ankle injury treatment options vary depending on the severity of the injury. Viable treatment options range from self-care to surgery and physical therapy.


If you’ve suffered a minor ankle sprain, at-home care may be all you need. When treating ankle injuries on your own, just remember the acronym “RICE.” This stands for:

  • Rest - Stay off your feet to give the ligaments time to heal
  • Ice - Ice the injured area to reduce swelling
  • Compression - Gently wrap the area to reduce swelling further
  • Elevation - Keep your foot raised to reduce swelling and aid recovery

Over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol can also provide temporary pain relief.


Wearing orthotics like sports tape, ankle braces, or even custom inserts can reduce stress on your foot. Wearing these devices while walking or running provides support, reducing the risk of re-injuring the ankle.

Therapy & Surgery

If you’ve suffered a Grade 3 ankle sprain, you may need to explore surgical options or physical therapy. Both processes typically require long recovery times, but they offer your best chance at a full recovery.

Diablo Foot & Ankle Can Help

If you believe you have suffered a severe ankle injury, you should seek a professional diagnosis right away. The sooner you understand the full extent of your injury, the more quickly you can begin treatment. Whether you simply need a diagnosis or want to learn more about ankle injury treatment, Diablo Foot & Ankle can help. Read more about our ankle injury treatment, or request a consultation today for a professional diagnosis.

Common Podiatry Questions

What is a Podiatrist?

A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the foot and ankle.

What does a Podiatrist treat?

A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the medical and surgical care of the feet. They can treat conditions such as ingrown toenails, fungal toenails, bunions, hammertoes, and plantar fasciitis.

What’s the difference between a Podiatrist and Orthopedist?

A Podiatrist and Orthopedist are very similar to each other in many ways. They use most of the same tools and treat a lot of the same conditions. The main difference between the two is their medical training. Podiatrists are trained exclusively on the foot and ankle, whereas the Orthopedic is trained on the whole body with an additional year of training on the foot and ankle.

Where are your Podiatry clinics located?

At Diablo Foot & Ankle, we treat our foot and ankle patients in two main clinic locations in Walnut Creek and in Antioch California. Dr. Eman Elmi and Dr. Shayan Esspoor are Board Certified Podiatrists who specialize in the treatment of foot and ankle disorders.

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