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How to Spring Back From a Sprained Foot

Dr. Eman Elmi
July 27, 2023
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Coming back from a sprained foot can be a painful and challenging prospect, but it isn’t insurmountable. Today we’ll help you get the spring back in your step after recovering from a sprained foot. You’ll have a spring back in your step before you know it!

Sprained Foot Symptoms: Know the Signs

Sprained foot symptoms are marked most notably by pain and tenderness near the arch of the foot. This pain can also be felt on the bottom, top, or sides of the foot. There is bruising and swelling in the area and pain when walking or during activity. Often, you shouldn’t be able to put weight on the injured foot, this is especially common in more severe sprains.

Most sprained feet happen due to activities or sports where the body pivots, but the feet stay relatively stable. Some activities where this happens most commonly include football, basketball, snowboarding, and dance.

There are three grades of sprain: noted I to III or minor, moderate, and severe. 

Minor sprains are noted by small tears in the ligaments. Grade II sprains have larger tears in the foot ligaments. Grade III, or severe, sprains have the ligaments either completely disrupted or detached from the bone itself.

Sprained Foot vs. Broken Foot: What are the Differences?

In experiencing the pain itself, it can be difficult to tell a sprained foto from a broken one. What are the differences between the two?

A sprain is caused by a stretching or tearing of ligaments, tough bands of fibrous tissues that connect two bones. In a foot sprain, this most commonly occurs in the ankle.

A broken foot, or fracture, involves damage to the bone itself. In the case of a foot fracture, to the many bones that make up the feet. This can happen in any bone of the foot and any part of the foot.

Typically, an ankle injury is more likely to be a sprain than a fracture, although not always. Similarly, an injury in another part of the foot is more likely a sign of a fracture than a sprain.

While fractures are usually more painful than sprains, this is better thought a guideline than a hard-set rule. Fractures and sprains also share overlapping symptoms, like swelling and bruising. For reasons like these, the best way to confirm whether the foot is sprained or fractured is to get it examined by a professional.

The Road to Recovery: Springing Back from a Foot Sprain

With help from a medical professional, foot sprain recovery is relatively easy. Depending on how severe the injury seems, your provider may take an x-ray of the foot to confirm it. They may also give you a splint or crutches to use while the foot heels.

Most mild to moderate sprains heal within 2 to 4 weeks. More severe ones may take up to 6 or 8 weeks. Serious sprains may require surgery to reduce the bone and allow ligaments to heal. In cases like these, recovery may be closer to 6 to 8 months.

What to Do After You’re Injured

At the risk of stating the obvious, if you feel pain performing any activity, stop doing that activity. Keep your foot as still as possible to help encourage the healing process.

Ice the sprain for 20 minutes, 2 to 3 times a day. Do not apply ice directly to the skin, always wrap it with a cloth or towel.

Keep the foot raised to reduce swelling, and take pain medication as needed. In most cases, over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen can all treat this pain effectively. Talk with your provider if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, stomach ulcers, or internal bleeding. Conditions like these can be complicated by certain pain medications.

Getting Active Again

After a long time lying down, you’ll be looking forward to the chance to get up and active again. Light activity can begin once the pain has decreased, and the swelling’s gone down. After that, you can begin slowly increasing the amount of walking and activity each day.

There may be some initial soreness and stiffness as you begin walking. This should hopefully go away as the muscles and ligaments begin to stretch and strengthen.

Your medical provider may have special exercises for you to help strengthen these muscles and ligaments. Exercises like these can also help prevent future injury.

Contact your provider if you feel sudden numbness or tingling or a sudden increase in pain or swelling. They should similarly be contacted if the injury is taking longer to heel than expected.

Spring Back Faster from Your Foot Sprain with Diablo Foot and Ankle

Springing back from a sprained foot can be a lengthy and challenging process, but you don’t have to face it alone. With support from trained medical professionals, the recovery process can be a faster and less painful one. 

If you live in the East Bay and need help with your sprained foot, Diablo Foot and Ankle is here to help. Diablo’s Board-Certified Podiatrists, Dr. Elmi and Dr. Essapoor, are versed in useful medical knowledge, including the risks of leaving a sprained foot untreated. Call (925) 464-1982 or schedule your appointment today and find relief sooner rather than later!

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