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How much time does a sprain take to heal?

Q: I am a 33 years old woman who fell from the bus and twisted her foot about seven days back. The left upper portion of the foot between the little toe and ankle joint swelled and became slightly blue. The foot pained a lot when I walked. I sprayed a pain reliever and also consulted a homeopath. He prescribed me injury and muscle related medicines and a muscle pain/sprain relieving ointment that I took for five days. On the fifth day, there was a lot of improvement and the pain had subsided remarkably. I was able to walk with very little pain and stand with a bit of ease. I joined office on the sixth day and started feeling a bit of pain again. I am worried that the injury hasn't healed. Would I have broken a bone or is this a muscle/ligament fracture? How much time will it take to heal? What precautions should I take?

A:The area of pain and swelling that you have mentioned could be the site for a typical sprain of the ankle. Your mechanism of injury also seems to suggest that. However, occasionally there could be a bony injury at the same site. It is very difficult to categorically exclude that. The points against the fracture are the fact that you are able to walk weight bearing on the foot along with the mechanism of injury. Whether a sprain, (which indicates a tear of a ligament, which are tissues that attach a bone to bone) or a fracture the healing time varies between 4-6 weeks in the foot. So, it is too early for you to expect healing. The precautions that you need are to avoid excessive walking, avoid walking on an uneven ground and avoid forceful manipulation of the foot. There is no specific medicine or cure that you can apply locally or systemically. You could watch for the next week or so and see how your symptoms subside. If they do not subside then it will be worthwhile consulting an orthopaedic surgeon.

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