Skip to content

    Pain Management Health Center

    Font Size

    Ankle Sprain

    When to Seek Medical Care

    Usually, an ankle sprain itself does not call for a trip to the doctor. The problem is how to tell a sprain from a more serious injury such as a fracture. If the following happen, you should contact your doctor:

    • Your pain is uncontrolled, in spite of over-the-counter medications, elevation, and ice.
    • You cannot walk or cannot walk without severe pain.
    • Your ankle fails to improve within 5-7 days. The pain need not be gone, but it should be improving.
    • A follow-up visit 1-2 weeks after the injury is advisable to help with flexibility and strengthening exercises.

    The indications to go to a hospital's emergency department are similar to those for which to call the doctor. The following conditions suggest you might have a fracture, or you may need a splint for pain control.

    • Severe or uncontrolled pain
    • Foot or ankle is misshapen or extremely swollen
    • Cannot walk without pain
    • Severe pain when pressing over the medial or lateral malleolus, the bumps on each side of the ankle

    Exams and Tests

    The doctor will check to see if a fracture or other serious injury has happened to require immediate care.

    • The examination should make sure that you haven’t injured the nerves or arteries to the foot.
      • The doctor will handle and move the foot and ankle to determine what bony areas are involved.
      • The doctor will also check the Achilles tendon for signs of rupture.
    • X-rays are often, but not always, needed to make sure that a fracture is not present.

    Today on WebMD

    pain in brain and nerves
    Top causes and how to find relief.
    knee exercise
    8 exercises for less knee pain.
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
    chronic pain
    Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
    illustration of nerves in hand
    lumbar spine
    Woman opening window
    Man holding handful of pills
    Woman shopping for vegetables
    Sore feet with high heel shoes
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    man with a migraine