How long does it take for a sprained ankle to heal?

This is the story of the time I thought I broke my ankle…

The Incident

Now I’m not normally the kind of person who believes in psychic abilities, but the night before a very unimportant soccer game I had a premonition. Tomorrow I would get hurt in spectacular fashion. Coincidentally I had quit my job recently, and while I gained an immense amount of freedom, I lost an immense amount of health insurance. Yet, I tried to put these thoughts to one side as I trotted onto the field next day in search of the glory that only a local intramural victory could provide.

It was all going so well until I felt the cruel hand of fate knock me off balance as I leaped into the air for a header. As I landed my right foot rolled inward and down. This was followed by a crackle and a pop (no snap thankfully) on the outside of my ankle just in front of what I later found out was called the lateral malleolus. The next thing I know I’m writhing on the ground making noises I have never made before or since.

DSC_0007
Immediately afterwards on the car ride home
Day 1

The first day wasn’t so bad due to what I’m guessing was a mixture of shock and adrenaline. I was confined to the couch since walking on it was out of the question. Luckily a buddy of mine had some spare crutches which made trips the bathroom a little easier. There wasn’t any bruising just yet, but the swelling persisted. The only thing to do now was RICE – Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate.

Day 1 Supplies: Pain Reliever, Ice Pack, Crutches, Elevation Pillow, Ankle Wraps

Week 1

The first week is not pretty. Although my left leg certainly got a workout from all the hopping around. A dark bruise appeared from the top of my foot near my toes all the way up my ankle near my calf. At this point I start to wonder if there is something seriously wrong with it. Is it fractured? Are the ligaments torn? If I had decent health insurance I would have gone in for an Xray. It’s around this time people will start to tell you it’s just a sprain and you’ll be fine after awhile. Unfortunately they are probably right. I lose the crutches around Day 5 in favor of a walking boot. The pain is the worst during this week. Obviously it hurts to walk, but there is an intense throbbing pain even when I’m not walking.

Week 1 Supplies: More Pain Relievers, Walking Boot

Month 1

I’m done with the boot after a couple of weeks, but I limped around until about Week 4. The bruising was slow to subside. Strangely the discoloration around my toes stuck around the longest even though there was no real pain. I couldn’t run or jump, but I started to do exercises to strengthen the ligaments. I start to wonder whether or not I’ll regain full strength in that ankle again. Since I couldn’t do anything physical, I started to play a lot of Xbox at this time, specifically FIFA and Rocket League. Leave me a comment if you want to get some games in…

Month 1 Supplies: Xbox

Will this ever end?

About 5 weeks after the injury I add physical activities back in my life, starting with beach volleyball. I couldn’t actually run or jump, but my ankle handled the sand well and it doesn’t feel too unstable especially with a brace.

Even though I was slowly progressing and becoming more active, I could still feel slight discomfort about 10 weeks after the injury. For peace of mind I went into the doctor to get it checked out. After manually manipulating my ankle and asking me some standard questions, the doctor concluded that it was probably a grade 2 or 3 ankle sprain. If it were a hairline fracture there wasn’t much we could do about it at this point, and it would be best just to wait it out. So I left without much more information, but at least it was definitely not cancer.

I tweaked the ankle again shortly thereafter playing volleyball. I planted my foot in the sand and felt a very warm stretching sensation. That’s it, I’ve done it again. But strangely after about 5 minutes it feels much better, as if I broke up some scar tissue that was causing tightness in the ankle. That is my decidedly unprofessional opinion on the matter.

Ongoing Supplies: Athletic Brace

Happy Ending

I started to think about my ankle less and less as time went on, until finally there would be days I didn’t think about it at all. It took about 4 months before I felt comfortable jumping and 6 months until I stepped back on to the soccer field. To this day it doesn’t have the same range of motion as my other ankle, and I don’t think I’m running as fast or jumping as high. Although I might just be getting old…

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