An ankle sprain can happen when your ankle rolls, twists, or turns in an awkward way. When this happens, the bands of tissue (ligaments) that help hold the ankle bones together can tear or stretch. A sprained ankle then causes swelling, pain and limited range of motion.
If you can put weight on your foot and walk immediately after having twisted your ankle, then you may not have an ankle fracture. If the ligaments have only been slightly stretched, you can usually return to normal activity again after a few days.
The first line of treatment for a sprained ankle is rest, ice and pain relievers. There is no specific time frame for a severely sprained ankle to heal, however, the ligaments themselves can take at least six weeks to fully heal. Severe sprains may need further medical evaluation by a podiatrist.
You should see a physician at Minor & James Podiatry if you are unable to walk more than a few steps without severe pain or if the ankle is not improving after 5 to 7 days. Chronically sprained ankles left untreated leave the ligaments stretched or torn and can lead to future instability of the ankle. Not treating them correctly can also lead to long term damage.