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No Such Thing as a “Simple” Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains are very common, and the severity often underestimated. 85% of all ankle injuries are sprains, and lateral ankle sprains being the most common.

The biggest misconception in patients is the time to recovery. Although very minor ankle sprains can recover within a week or two, most ankle sprains are high grade (complete tears). Research have shown that 75% still have symptoms at 6 months and up to 45% at 3 years.

The key to recovery from any injury is that the treating specialist as well as the patient have the same expectation of the duration of recovery. Understanding what symptoms are normal to experience will decrease unnecessary anxiety and frustration.

The key to recovering from an ankle sprain is to understand that full recovery can take up to 1 year. This includes swelling and being “aware” of your ankle. It is important to see a foot and ankle specialist if your symptoms worsen or recovery plateaus. Often associated injuries such as cartilage injuries need to be ruled out. Functional rehabilitation has been linked to faster recovery and lower re-injury rates. Functional rehabilitation essentially means allowing early weight bearing while protecting the healing ligaments.

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