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Recovery from a torn ankle ligament

Updated April 13, 2018

The ligaments in the ankle connect the bones to one another, and provide strength and support to the joint. Ankle ligament injuries, sometimes called sprains, are common and usually heal with few major complications. Severe tearing of the ankle ligaments requires medical care for proper treatment. Recovery involves a number of steps depending on the severity of the injury.

Self-Care

See a doctor if you think you have a torn ankle ligament so that your doctor can evaluate the severity of your injury and determine whether you have a fracture. While at home use rest, ice, compression and elevation to treat your injury and start the recovery process. Ice your ankle as soon as possible after you injure it. Apply ice packs for 10 to 30 minutes for the first two or three days to reduce swelling and pain. Do not apply pressure or weight to your ankle and rest as much as possible. Elevate your ankle slightly higher than your hips to reduce swelling. Apply an elastic bandage, such as an ACE bandage, to your ankle. Be careful not to wrap the bandage so tightly that it cuts off your circulation or causes numbness.

Take ibuprofen or aspirin to reduce swelling and alleviate pain. Once you begin walking, wear comfortable, supportive shoes without heels to prevent re-injury.

Exercise And Therapy

Your doctor will advise you when you should start exercising to strengthen your ankle and regain range of motion. Beginning an exercise program before your ligament has had enough time to heal properly greatly increases your risk of re-injury. Dr. Kevin Stone, orthopaedic surgeon at the Stone Clinic in San Francisco, advises patients with torn ankle ligaments to start pointing and flexing the ankle seven to 10 times a day to help regain range of motion after the initial healing period. Strengthen calf muscles by placing your uninjured foot against the ball of your injured foot and applying pressure. Push gently against the pressure to move your foot away from your body. To strengthen the front main ankle muscle, place your uninjured foot on top of your injured ankle and flex your injured ankle toward your knees, holding it there and then slowly returning to the starting position. Knee bends, starting with weight on both feet equally and progressing to bends standing on only your injured leg will also help strengthen your healing ligament. Perform these exercises with an ankle brace or splint to prevent your ankle from buckling or rolling out of position. Your doctor may prescribe physical therapy for more severe injuries.

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About the Author

Amanda Knaebel is a self-professed gadget geek and loves all things tech, both new and old. Amanda has been working as a freelance writer for over 10 years on topics including technology, health, fitness, nutrition, gardening and many more. She has also worked with Fortune 50 tech and financial companies, both in technical support and content production.