A torn ankle ligament is a sprain. These are graded 1, 2, or3 and the healing time is longer the more severe a sprain. Grade 1 you may return to all activities in a day or 2. Grade 2 may need crutches or a brace for a few days and avoiding sports for a few weeks. Grade 3 may require a longer period of crutch use and a walking cast or brace for a 4 – 6 weeks. A fibular “twist” fracture which is completely stable is still usually protected with a walking cast (often removable) for about 6 weeks to avoid displacement even though it may not hurt.

There is a special kind of ankle sprain called a high ankle sprain which is tearing of a different ligament. This type of sprain can require prolonged casting or even surgery and usually ends the season for an athlete. This can be diagnosed by your orthopaedic surgeon or other expert musculoskeletal provider.

29 comments

  1. rosa

    My 18 yr old son. had an accident while playing Frisbee last Aug 3. His right foot was bleeding profusely and the emergency personnel thought that he had a compound fracture. Fortunately the x rays showed no fracture, they were able to contain the bleeding that was caused by two deep lacerations in the external midfoot, that damaged a branch of the saphenous vein. He got six stitches in total, and the doctor stated that there was no damage to ligaments, nerves or tendons. The stitches were removed after 10 days and he started walking. 8 weeks have passed, the foot is still swollen, and the ankle in the right foot looks wider than the left. He states that the day of the accident he heard a loud pop while falling, I read that a loud pop usually means a torn ligament. He states that the foot hurts when he does rock climbing at College, or does squats while doing weight lifting. I am concern that the ankle looks wider because of a torn ligament that caused a separation of the tibia and fibula. How can that be overruled?.

    • Dr. Alexandra Page

      Swelling even 3 months after a major foot/ankle injury is not surprising. If he is back to high intensity sports including rock climbing and squats with weights, that is a very good sign. If both the pain and swelling are decreasing week by week, no further evaluation may be necessary. However, if there are concerns at this time he should be seen by his orthopaedic surgeon or medical provider.

  2. Natalie

    I am 26 years old and a pretty small girl, I injured my ankle 6 months ago putting my foot out to block a soccer ball. There was minimal swelling and pain did not last long and strength/stability remained, however after six months I still cannot wear heels as I do not have full motion when it comes to pointing my toes. My ankle is constantly a little sore and sitting cross legged so it is on bottom bearing weight in a not neutral position, or laying in bed on my stomach so that it is sideways or pointed against the bed is very uncomfortable. The pain is on the inside of my ankle directly under the round ankle bone and pressing there caused lasting throbbing pain even still. I have had an x-Ray, ultrasound and MRI on it and none have showed anything but though I have been wearing orthopedic braces and not playing any sports for six months it is still clearly not healed though I have lost no strength in the ankle … I do not want to wait another 6 months hoping it will heal and not playing. There are no sprains or tears that should take more than six months to heal that I know of, I am at a loss of what it could be and the fastest way to get back to sports!

  3. Bonnie

    Severe ankle sprain 3+ weeks ago. Still cannot walk w/o extreme pain. Bruising has lessened then increased over the weeks. Bruising is along bottom of foot and over ankle and front of it. My Achilles causes a lot of pain, then pain shoots through back of calve when I reach toward my foot when my leg is elevated. My entire foot is swollen and there is only remaining swell on outer foot. I’ve had 2 X-rays-first showed no fracture, second requested by physiotherapist.. Should I be walking by now if it’s a sprain or is it broken?

  4. Tyrell

    I twisted my ankle 4 days ago. My wife says she heard pop sound when it happened. I put some ice on it and eventually put it in a bucket of cold water as I did not have any more ice. I went to hospital the following afternoon and got crutches. X-rays were clear of fractures. I just did an ultrasound this afternoon and it turns out I have grade 2 torn ligament. Si I have been given an ankle brace to wear for the next four weeks. Funny this is that I am now getting pains from the brace than when I was just resting the leg over the last few days. I am hoping this will improve with time.

    Do I sleep with the brace on or should I just put it on during the day. I was told it is to prevent further injury to a grade 3 while I heal.

    Thanks for the info

  5. Rebecca Smith

    I fell walking down stairs 3 weeks ago. I heard the “pop” when my ankle twisted but had to continue on to work that week. I have used the “RICE” method, am able to walk on it, but it is still swollen around the ankle bone. Should I be concerned? I hate to go to the doctor for xray costs when I can walk on it without limping. It does hurt some but nothing severe.

    • vandana

      my condition is exactly same. what has been adviced to you ? how long does it take to heal

    • Margaret

      I rolled my ankle and heard a pop. No pain, just swelling some and bruise around ankle. I am able to walk but now into 2 months and cannot walk down stairs and some minor swelling. I am back to wearing a brace. what advice have you gotten? everything I read and heard its a time thing to get it back. SO frustrating

  6. Lexy Montgomery

    Hurt my ankle warming up for a soccer game. Blew up to the size of a baseball on the outside of the ankle (right foot) within 2 minutes or less. When the injury happened they were assuming a fracture, but when getting X-rays 2 days later no fracture was shown. Put into a boot and on crutches for 2 weeks. It’s been almost 3 months now and still do not have full range of motion, and still have pain and swelling. The pain is behind the ankle around where the Achilles is. There have been a couple occasions where I will be walking and my ankle will roll again and it feels as if I won’t be able to walk after. Should I be concerned?

    • Sarah

      Yes, I had an injury around a similar time, I have reinjured mine as i did too much too soon. There is a very high chance you see as its damaged. I was in terrible pain, I do physio everyday but i am in mild pain most of the time. I am improving, it just takes a while as the blood flow is not as rapid to ligaments as too other areas. I’v heard it can take between 6 months to 9 months.

  7. Tory

    Hi, I just had surgery to repair a partially torn left paraneal ligament. It felt like I was able to move around much easier (on crutches with very light weight-bearing and wearing a boot) for a few days after the surgery. Now it seems like the original issue has returned, and moving around or even shifting my foot is difficult. Is it possible that the stitches came loose? Or that it didn’t take somehow? Or is my ligament in shock or something like that?

  8. Chandan Singh Chauhan

    7 weeks ago while playing badminton I got a grade 1 sprain in my right ankle. So had taken rest for a week. When the pain was reduced then once again I tried to play then swelling appeared in my right ankle. 2 weeks before from now my sprain grade increased to 3 due to less bed rest. Then doctor prescribed me a plaster on my right leg for complete bed rest. Now after 2 weeks of plaster and bed rest my pain has reduced to a large extent but it is not completely wiped out. What should i do??

  9. Miss craig

    Hurt ankle 8days ago havent hadcan xray butvstill struggling to bear weight shud i see my doctor?

  10. Sam Biddlecombe

    12 months ago I stood in a pot hole and damaged ligaments on both side of my ankle. Had a x ray and told me I just sprained my ankle, no cast or splint. Did have 6 weeks of physio. Still having pain so had a MRI scan privately and came back that have chip fracture posterior aspect of the talus, bone marrow oedema of medial malleolus. Strain ligament of deltoid and strain of tibiofibular and talofibular ligament. Any advice on what the outcome would be, do you think I will need surgery? Any advice would be helpful. Thanks

  11. Doris

    Am Doris,I fell down and I think I sprained my ankle but ,it gets better at night and swells up if I go out during the drain,and I feel slight pain in front of my fibula and behind,I think there is a little discoloration of skin,what do I do?

  12. Shanto S

    Hii , I’m Shanto while playing soccer my right leg ankle ligament torn it’s been 9 months taking all medicines it’s not been curing it’s the same ! I’m an athlete im worried I can’t even walk properly, Will this ll not be cured or Wat to be done to get it cure ? Please pass me answer

  13. Ginger M

    I twisted my ankle this past friday and has been sore but have shooting pain up my leg,light bruising but nothing extreme. I walk on it hurts and of course when I drive pain worstens 4 days now . Should i get check or let it be

  14. Sinead

    I had fallen 5 weeks ago and in result to this I may have torn a ligament in my ankle, swelling has not gone down nor has this pain eased at all. I iced and elevated my foot after the fall and the following day I kept off my foot now I’m using a boot from the past injury but nothing seems to be working

  15. Ocean

    Last night, i was at a roller skating rink and since i haven’t been there since i was younger, i kept falling. The very last time that i fell, i ended up twisting my ankle around and was able to feel and hear quite a few pops. My foot went numb and i wasn’t able to move it for a few minutes. Once i regained the feeling, it began to hurt to walk, so i sat down and iced it. This morning, however, it is not my ankle that hurts so much, but the back of my knee. Any weight that i put on it, or even no weight at all, it causes alot of pain and discomfort. I’m not sure exactly whats going on, but it brings tears to my eyes because of how much it hurts.

  16. Vaishnavi

    May I know what ligament is presented at the right side of the foot near ankle.

  17. sheik

    On march’17, i met with an accident. After checking X-Ray, doctor confirmed that there is fracture in left ankle. My heel bone and posterior talofibular ligament (grade 3) has broken. Since, it was minor fracture, my leg was under casting for 7 weeks. After that, they took x-ray again. Doctor confirmed that heel bone was healed and ligament also cured almost and i can start walking slowly.
    So, i started walking with support of crunches and stick for almost 2 months and then started walking without any support.
    Now, when i stand i won’t feel my pain . But when i walk, i feel some pain at ankle joint (near ligament) .

    Please advise whether it is normal behavior and it takes some time to get out from pain and limp.

  18. Mr Musa Russia Mabuza

    My name is Russia Mabuza Im 62 years old I went to play soccer with my pastor unfortunately my first touch was trapping a high ball with my new soccer boots and my ligament at the back of my ankle was torn when trying to turn. 3rd day went to a doctor who confirmed the torn ligament on my left ankle. 6th day went for surgery and the ligament was stitched a cast was put on the ankle for 4 weeks. After the cast was replaced with a POP for another 4 weeks have a week after it was removed but Im still limping. WHY?

  19. Lisa

    I suffered a bimal fracture of the left fibula with dislocation on May 10, 2017. I also ended up tearing a ligament in half. I have 7 screws and a plate. I am at 5 months now. How long does it usually take to begin to be normal?

  20. Michelle

    i fell at work, my ankle twisted off of a curb. The doctor at the walkin clinic stated I had a severe sprain and had popped (?) all three ligaments in my ankle. I was given a brace and crutches to use for a few days. It’s been a week and I still have pain, swelling and bruising under my ankle bone, how long should I deal with this before possibly following up with and orthopedic doctor?

  21. magriet

    i fell from 1 stem and my foot went inwards. it was swollen immediatly and purple to the calf. I went straight to the emergency room , went for x-rays and the doctor said it was only a soft tissue injury. after a week i still couldnt handle the pain so i went back she only said it to me again it was a soft tissue injury. after 2 weeks i still couldnt put weight on the foot so i got an aircast from a friend, used it for 3 weeks, weared a normal ankle brace for 4 weeks . its now 5 months later and my outside ankle is still littles swolen, the bones in the rest of my foot still gets tender at times and i can not stand or walk long before it starts to get really sore. i can not wear my wedges or high heel shoes …..any idea how long its still going to be like this

  22. Brittany Frazier

    about a year ago, i noticed a huge and nasty bruise on my ankle (right on the bone)
    I tried to let it heal on its own but as time went on i noticed the bruising wasnt as bad but it was still bruised and badly swollen. After about a year and a half, ive finally seen a doctor. He knows ive at least pulled my ligament but is having me do an MRI to determine if it been torn. I notice the more i try to stay off of it, the more pain i feel… Ive iced it and elevated it for the past 3-4 days but have seen much of a change, just more pain…. Im just trying to determine if ive torn it or just pulled it..
    Icing it seems to make it hurt, im wearing a boot for support but even that still hurts. My doctor gave me some inflammation medication. Surprisingly it helps with the pain the pain since it makes me a bit out of it… Can i take more? What is everyones opinion..

  23. Surabhi

    I had a minor accident…and I am suffering with ligament tear…it’s 3days now but swelling is same and can’t walk at all…how many days will it take to walk and reduce swelling

  24. Alani ibarra

    All I did was wake up and my ankle hurt really bad I had all signs of a sprained ankle except bruising and swelling,just to figure out 30 mins later I feel better,what happend?

  25. Cynthia Johnson

    I am a 60 yr. Old active woman. 2 weeks ago I rolled my right foot on the stairs. I knew immediately this was not good. I went to the emergency room and they said nothing was broken but I have torn ligaments and tendons in my right foot with a severe sprain. My foot got extremely swollen and bruised. When my foot turned and I fell on it, a sharp pain shot through the outside of my foot, ankle/heel area so i also have a bruise under my ankle on the inside of my foot, right where the pain shot through at. I was put in the boot and crutches. My job is not letting me return to work because they say im a liability and because i work with severe special needs high school students until I’m 100%. How long could it take for me to be walking on my own?

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