It would have been better to break my ankle rather than damage the ligaments
Very often we hear a frustrated client claim they wish they had broken a bone rather than the sometimes slow recovery of a significant ankle sprain.
In part they may be right as:
Firstly bone has a better blood supply than ligament therefore it has potential to heal quicker.
Secondly with a fracture you are immobilised to allow healing. This pretty much negates pain as you aren’t encouraged to weight-bear on it quickly.
Thirdly progress once out of cast can seem a lot quicker as once mobilisation starts usually there is rapid progress in the following 6 weeks. However there has still been the 4-6 weeks immobilised healing time to factor in!
The interesting factor is perception of recovery time. As I’ve said above, a broken bone will take up to 6 weeks to heal and up to another 6 to rehab (overall up to 12 weeks) A significant ankle ligament injury will take anything from 8-12 weeks recovery but because they are often weight bearing in less than a week and usually very sore and swollen for the following weeks the recovery process often seems never ending.
The other factor which affects the perception of ligament injuries is the high re injury rate. We find there are several factors here. Poor rehab adherence, rushing to return to play with heavy strapping and often varying degrees of residual ligament laxity.
When recovering from a fracture firstly the cast prevents early return to play then there seems to be greater diligence with the rehab due perhaps to the rapid progress being made. There is also less expectation for rapid return to play from coaches etc because a fracture is seen as more serious.
So in summary timescales for a broken ankle or badly sprained ankle will usually be similar but the perception of recovery is definitely different.
We highly recommend seeking professional advice though for any ligament injury to help ensure it doesn’t become a chronic issue!!