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Ankle Tests

  • Physical examination: A health-care provider's examination of the ankle may identify whether an ankle fracture, sprain, or another condition is present.
  • Ankle X-ray: An X-ray film of the ankle is most commonly used to determine a fracture, arthritis, or other problems.
  • Stress X-ray: A doctor puts pressure on an injured ankle and takes an X-ray film. Also called a stress film or a stress test, this may uncover ankle problems unseen on regular X-rays.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan): An MRI scanner uses a high-powered magnet and a computer to create high-resolution images of the ankle.

Ankle Treatments

  • RICE therapy: RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression (as with an athletic bandage), and Elevation. RICE therapy is good initial treatment for most ankle injuries.
  • Pain medicines: Over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve) can ease most ankle pain.
  • Cortisone injections: Injecting cortisone into the ankle can help with some forms of ankle arthritis. Cortisone suppresses inflammation in the ankle joint, reducing swelling and pain.
  • Ankle immobilization: Immobilizing the ankle (usually with a cast) is necessary for most ankle fractures. Some health-care providers believe immobilization may help ankle sprains as well.
  • Ankle surgery: Surgery may be required for many serious ankle conditions. In general, ankle surgery is performed in order to make the ankle more stable. Various techniques are used to keep the ankle bones in place.
    • Syndesmotic screw: A surgeon places a screw connecting the bones of the lower leg. This keeps the bones together, giving a high ankle sprain time to heal. Once healed, the screw is removed.
    • Ankle arthroscopic surgery: Ankle surgery using tools inserted through small incisions in the ankle. One of the tools, an endoscope, allows a surgeon to view the inside of the ankle joint on a video screen.
    • Ankle fusion surgery: Surgery to fuse the bones of the ankle together, limiting movement in the ankle. Ankle fusion surgery can relieve the pain of severe ankle arthritis
    • Ankle replacement surgery: Although some surgeons perform ankle replacement surgery, the results are generally poor, compared to knee replacement surgery. Watch the video.

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