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Ankle Sprain (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

Usually, an ankle sprain itself does not require a trip to the doctor. The problem is how to tell a sprain from a more serious injury such as a fracture (break). If any of the following occur, contact your doctor.

  • Pain is uncontrolled, despite the used of over-the-counter medications, elevation, and ice.

  • The injured person is unable to walk or cannot walk more than a few steps without severe pain.
  • The ankle fails to improve within five to seven days. The pain need not be gone, but it should be improving.

The indications to go to a hospital's emergency department are similar to those for which to call the doctor. The following conditions suggest a fracture or more serious injury or that a splint may be needed for pain control:

  • There is severe or uncontrolled pain.

  • The injured ankle cannot be moved.

  • The foot or ankle is misshapen beyond normal swelling.

  • The injured person cannot walk four steps, even with a limp.

  • Severe pain felt when pressing over the medial or lateral malleolus, the bony bumps on each side of the ankle.

  • There is loss of feeling in the foot or toes.

  • There is pain and swelling in the back of the ankle (heel pain), over the Achilles tendon area, or the inability to push the toes down (forward-like pressing a gas pedal).

  • There is pain or swelling into the upper part of the lower leg just below the knee or swelling of the calf muscle.

  • Redness or red streaks spreading out from the injury are observed.

  • You don't know how serious the injury may be or are unsure how to care for it.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/11/2014

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