Learn more about the treatment of sprained ankles

When to See a Doctor About a Sprained Ankle

You are climbing the stairs with a basket of laundry when your foot slips. Your heel rises as your toes curl inward, and your ankle twists.

When seeking medical attention for your sprained ankle, consult UPMC CareFinder. You can find UPMC Urgent Care centers, Emergency Departments, Walk-In Primary Care, and Children’s Express Care. You can even start an online visit with UPMC AnywhereCare.

About 25,000 adults in the United States sprain an ankle every day. Most often sprained ankles heal on their own with simple rest and ice. However, mild to severe sprains that are not treated can cause serious health issues. Seeking care from a doctor or even an emergency room can help keep the ankle healthy and flexible.

RELATED: Treatment and Recovery for Broken Ankles

Seeking Care for an Ankle Injury

Serious sprains often have symptoms similar to those of a broken bone. An audible “pop” followed by intense pain, or deformity of your ankle, might mean that you have a broken bone, and you should visit the emergency room immediately.

Urgent care centers can treat sprained ankles, which include the following symptoms:

  • Swelling and/or bruising around the ankle
  • Increased pain when the area is moved or pressure is applied
  • Total loss of function of the ankle or complete inability to stand
  • Tenderness to the touch
  • Instability of ankle when standing

Treating a Sprained Ankle at Home

Some ankle sprains heal on their own following the simple R.I.C.E. method: rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

If the pain subsides immediately after the sprain and the ankle is mobile, home care may be possible. Monitor the sprain carefully over 24 to 48 hours. If none of the above sprain symptoms are present, your ankle may have healed on its own.