July 29, 2019

What to expect during recovery from a foot or ankle injury

Foot and Ankle | Sports Injury


A foot and ankle injury can greatly impact your daily life no matter how seemingly small the injury may be. At times, it may feel like the pain will never go away, which can cause a lot of frustration. 

Dr. Mihir Patel, an OrthoIndy foot and ankle specialist, provides tips for recovery after a foot or ankle injury and what to expect. 

“Whether you had surgery or not, recovery after a foot or ankle injury takes time for the swelling to go down or the pain to go away,” said Dr. Patel. “It’s important to follow certain steps to recovery and stay positive.” 

Recovery tips after a foot or ankle injury 

  • Reduce swelling: No matter your foot or ankle injury, swelling might be present. Ice your injury for up to 20 minutes several times throughout the day. Be sure to elevate your injured leg above your heart to reduce swelling whenever possible. 
  • Expect difficulty: It’s not easy to move around with a foot or ankle injury. Don’t be afraid to ask someone for help driving you places, getting dressed or doing your daily housekeeping tasks. If you need to use crutches, have someone help you move items in your home so you can easily move around without risk of falling. 
  • Don’t resume normal activity too soon: Some foot or ankle conditions appear to go away so resuming normal activity before you have been given the go-ahead can seem tempting; however, during recovery it’s very easy to re-injure yourself or for pain to come back.  
  • Do foot and ankle strengthening exercises: Make sure to follow your doctor or physical therapists’ exercises for foot and ankle strengthening. Rehabilitation after a foot or ankle injury is important to reduce risk of re-injury and return to your normal active lifestyle.  

View our foot and ankle exercises you can do at-home 

Common foot and ankle injury recovery questions 

According to Dr. Patel, recovery after a foot or ankle surgery can last several weeks, but more than likely can take several months to fully regain function and mobility in your foot or ankle. 

“Recovery time is an estimate based on the needs of the patient, the treatment process and what kind of job or sport they are returning to,” said Dr. Patel. “Every patient’s recovery is customized and patient-specific. It’s important they allow themselves enough time to heal. Many injuries can take more than a year to fully recover.” 

OrthoIndy Physical Therapy has certified physical therapists who can assist you during your recovery process. A physical therapist will help you with exercises to regain movement and strength in your foot or ankle. They will also help you return to your daily activities and work tasks. 

At-home treatment for foot and ankle injuries

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

Most ankle sprains are mild and will often start to feel better within a few days to a week and resolve completely by six weeks. However, more severe ankle sprains, especially those involving multiple ligaments, may take many weeks to recover, sometimes three months or longer for a full recovery. 

How long does it take to recover from a fractured ankle (broken ankle)? 

It usually takes six to 12 weeks for bones to heal. Ligaments and tendons can take longer to heal after a fracture is fully mended. It can take as long as two years to completely recover motion and strength after breaking an ankle, although most people can resume their normal daily routine within three to four months. 

How long do you need to tape a broken toe? 

Your injured toe may need to be buddy-taped for two to four weeks to heal. If your injured toe hurts more after buddy taping it, remove the tape. 

How long does it take for plantar fasciitis to go away? 

Most people who have plantar fasciitis recover with conservative treatments, including resting, icing the painful area and stretching, in several months. However, if conservative treatment does not offer relief more surgery may be necessary which may require six months to a year of recovery time. 

Download our plantar fasciitis home exercise program 

How long does it take to recover from a broken foot? 

Bones generally take six to 12 weeks to heal. Your foot and ankle surgeon will determine when you are ready to bear weight on the area. 

How long is the recovery period after ankle surgery? 

Each injury is different, and everybody heals at their own pace, but it will take at least six weeks for your bones to heal. If you’ve also torn ligaments or tendons, the healing time will be longer. 

How long does tendonitis take to heal in the foot? 

The pain of tendinitis can be significant and worsen if damage progresses because of continued use of the joint. Most damage heals in about two to four weeks, but chronic tendinitis can take more than six weeks if you don’t give the tendon enough time to heal. 

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Patel, please call 317.569.2513 or learn more about treatment for foot and ankle injuries at OrthoIndy. 

Schedule an appointment

Your well-being is important to us. Click the button below or call us to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our OrthoIndy Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.

Schedule an Appointment Call OrthoIndy 317.802.2000

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