Ankle Sprain Recovery: Natural Healing vs Surgery vs Physio


Treatment Options

There are a few options you have to choose from when you have sprained your ankle. Here is a breakdown of natural healing and surgery vs physiotherapy.

Natural Healing

Setbacks letting the ankle heal naturally include;

  • Delayed healing
  • Prolonged pain
  • Temporary/permanent limited ankle range of motion
  • Cause subsequent knee or hip or even lower back conditions due to poor gait mechanics stemming from the ankle 
  • Increase likelihood of re-injury 
  • Develop chronic ankle instability 


Surgery is not necessary for the majority of cases, even grade 3 ligament tears. However in some severe cases involving a grade 3 sprain, surgery might be required as there is sometimes additional damage to surrounding structures. Surgery may be indicated to avoid developing chronic ankle instability.


  • Swelling management 
  • Pain management
  • Regain range of motion through soft tissue massage and manual therapy
  • Progressive strength training exercises – calf strengthening
  • Improve ankle stability & proprioception through exercise – balance exercises
  • Regain function through walking/running gait retraining – stepping exercises (pictured)
  • Return to sport rehabilitation exercises to get you back to sport or even better than you were prior to your injury

Outcomes From Physiotherapy 

  • Speeds up recovery
  • Reduces pain
  • Improves lower limb mobility 
  • Increases lower limb strength and stability 
  • Return to your normal daily activities 
  • Return to sport

Overall, you are better off trying physiotherapy as opposed to leaving your ankle to heal naturally, or jumping straight into surgery.

By Corey Biczo

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