When to see a doctor

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Even a relatively benign ankle injury can be quite painful, at least at first. It is usually safe to try simple home remedies for a while.

Seek immediate medical attention if you:

  • Have severe pain or swelling
  • Have an open wound or severe deformity
  • Have signs of infection, such as redness, warmth and tenderness in the affected area or a fever greater than 100 F (37.8 C)
  • Cannot put any weight at all on your foot

Schedule an office visit if you:

  • Have persistent swelling that doesn't improve at all after two to five days of home treatment
  • Have persistent pain that doesn't improve after several weeks

Self-care
For many ankle injuries, self-care measures may be sufficient. Examples include:

  • Rest. Keep weight off your ankle as much as possible. Take a break from your normal activities.
  • Ice. Place an ice pack or bag of frozen peas on your ankle for 15 to 20 minutes three times a day.
  • Compression. Use a compression bandage to reduce swelling.
  • Elevation. Elevate your foot to help reduce swelling.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications. Drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen (Aleve) can ease pain and aid healing.

Even with the best of care, you may have some ankle swelling, stiffness or pain, particularly first thing in the morning or after you've been active, for several weeks.

Mar. 13, 2013