The most commonly torn ligaments of the ankle are those located on the outer side of the foot, which prevent excessive inward movement of the ankle.
A Grade 3 ankle sprain is the most severe and serious type of ankle sprain, wherein the ligaments are fully torn.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Grade 3 Ankle Sprain?
If you have a Grade 3 ankle sprain, the following symptoms may be observed:
- Extremely painful or tender to touch, especially on the outer side of the ankle
- Excessive swelling
- A popping sound may be felt or heard at the time of injury
- Difficulty putting weight on the affected ankle due to pain, which makes walking very challenging
- Difficulty moving the injured ankle
- Instability of the injured ankle
How Long Does It Take For A Grade 3 Ankle Sprain To Heal?
A Grade 3 or severe ankle sprain will usually heal within three to six months, but this depends on the individual’s overall health and adherence to a rehabilitation program.
It is important to obtain a proper diagnosis to make sure that the correct treatment plan for your ankle is given. If diagnosed incorrectly and treated poorly, an ankle sprain could result in a longer recovery time and delayed return to function and may result in other complications.
Recovery of ankle sprains can be divided into three phases:
- Phase 1 involves resting and protecting the injured ankle and reducing swelling and pain.
- Phase 2 involves returning and improving the normal range of motion of the joint and increasing the strength and flexibility of the muscles around it.
- Phase 3 involves the gradual return to daily activities or training (if you are an athlete). However, movements that involve twisting of the ankle or making sudden turns should still be avoided until further recovery.
What Are Some Home Remedies For A Grade 3 Ankle Sprain?
If you suspect that you have a Grade 3 ankle sprain, it is best to go to the nearest hospital or clinic immediately. A severe ankle sprain requires proper care and immediate attention.
If you are unable to see a doctor immediately, the RICE method can be done during the first 48 to 72 hours after the injury.
Limit moving the affected ankle and avoid placing weight on the joint such as in standing or walking to prevent further injury.
Place an ice pack over the affected ankle and a towel in between to prevent skin burn. It should only be applied for 20 minutes or less and must be done multiple times per day with at least 1 hour in between for it to be more effective. Ice helps reduce pain and swelling associated with a severe ankle sprain.
After the initial 3 days, a warm compress should be used to improve the blood circulation in the area and facilitate healing. Heat will also help reduce joint stiffness in preparation for the exercises to be done during rehabilitation.
Use an elastic bandage to apply a compression force and limit the swelling in the affected ankle. Avoid wrapping too tightly as it may hinder blood circulation.
The affected ankle should be elevated above the heart to help drain excess fluid and reduce swelling.
Can You Walk With A Grade 3 Ankle Sprain?
In a Grade 3 ankle sprain, there is a complete tear of the ligaments. The ligaments are responsible for supporting and keeping your ankle stable. Without the stability they provide, the ankle will not be able to hold the weight of the body when standing and walking.
Also, with a Grade 3 ankle sprain, you will experience swelling and extreme pain especially during movements. The swelling increases the pressure inside the ankle which causes further pain. Because of this, it will be very difficult and painful to walk.
Putting weight on the affected ankle, such as when standing and walking during the initial phase of injury, is not advised as it may cause more harm to the ankle joint.
Do Grade 3 Sprains Require Surgery?
Even for severe ankle sprains, surgery is rarely prescribed. Surgery is only required for those who have persistent ankle instability and persistent pain after several months of non-surgical treatment and rehabilitation. This is usually done to repair the ligaments that have failed to heal after non-invasive treatment methods have been considered.
During Phase 1 of recovery, you may be required to use a cast or a brace to immobilize and properly align your ankle for proper healing of the ligaments. Because you will not be allowed to put weight on the affected leg, you may also need to use a crutch.
Read about Best Brace for Sprained Ankle.
The cast or brace will be worn for about a week up to 10 days. Physical therapy and rehabilitation are important to help restore ankle motion and regain the strength and flexibility of the muscles of the ankle.
You will be asked to perform controlled exercises which will be progressed as the injury heals. Balance, coordination, and stability exercises will also be incorporated in the rehabilitation program to prevent recurrence of the ankle sprain.
Dr Aarti is an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery) from Baroda Medical College (The Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda). Dr. Aarti has also completed her Masters of Medical Science and Technology from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.