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Ankle Sprain

Medical Treatment

Treatment by a doctor will be very similar to that described for home care, especially using ice to lessen the inflammation.

  • The doctor may elect to apply a brace or cast to reduce motion of the ankle. Crutches are frequently provided so you do not have to bear weight on the injured ankle.
  • The most common medications used for ankle sprains are anti-inflammatory pain medications that both reduce pain and help control inflammation. If you cannot tolerate these drugs, acetaminophen (Tylenol) or narcotics are common alternatives for pain relief.

Next Steps Follow-up

Follow-up for ankle sprains is needed only if the ankle is not healing well. This could indicate there is a previously undetected fracture or torn ligaments. Go to a doctor for follow-up care if either of the following is true.

  • Your ankle continues to hurt after 2 weeks
  • Any swelling occurs

Prevention

Ankle sprain prevention can be as simple as wearing the right shoes or as complicated as balance training for athletes.

  • Keep your ankles strong and flexible. Check with your doctor or physical therapist for strengthening exercises.
  • Wear the proper shoes for the activity. You should always wear stable shoes that give your ankle the proper support. High-top basketball shoes are a good choice. (High heels or platform shoes are not the best choice if you're trying to prevent an ankle sprain.)
  • If you are participating in a sport, you might want to consider having a weak ankle taped to offer extra support. If you have repeated sprains, wearing an ankle brace while playing may help as well.
  • Make sure that the playing field is clear of any holes or obstacles.
  • Remove any obstacles or trip hazards from your home or yard.

Outlook

Most ankle sprains heal without complications or difficulty.

  • Surgery is seldom needed for mild or moderate sprains. It is sometimes considered when a person with a severe sprain is a professional athlete or someone else who will likely put a lot of stress on the joint in the future. 
  • Exercises to maintain flexibility and strength can often be started once the swelling has resolved and you can walk without pain. Check with your doctor first.

 

Multimedia

Media file 1: Ankle sprain. Medial and lateral malleoli, the "bumps" on either side of the ankle. The medial malleolus is formed by the tibia, while the fibula forms the lateral malleolus.

ankle sprain 1

Media file 2: Ankle sprain. Inversion injury of ankle. Note it is turned inward.


 

Synonyms and Keywords

ankle sprain, twisted ankle, turned ankle, rolled ankle, tibia, medial malleolus, fibula, talus, anterior talofibular ligament

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WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on May 04, 2014

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