A sprained ankle can be a nuisance, after all the ability to walk properly without pain or injury is greatly favored. Ankle injuries can be complex, as the level of injury determines treatment. Are you asking yourself, should I go to the ER for a sprained ankle? If so, keep reading to find out how to approach your sprain. 

ER VS Urgent Care

The difference between urgent care is simple. Think of urgent care as an after-hours doctor. You would go there is you feel you can’t wait for a doctor’s appointment but your ailment isn’t life-threatening. The emergency room is reserved for immediate treatment. Depending on the severity of your injury, you would wait for a doctor’s appointment, head to urgent care, or go straight to the emergency room. Here are 3 scenarios:

  • You can schedule a doctor’s appointment if: you are experiencing pain and swelling on your ankle but you are able to walk without feeling unbearable pain.
  • Go to urgent care if your pain level and swelling is significant and you have difficulty walking, to the point that you need assistance, due to the pain.
  • Go to the emergency room if your foot is bruised, deformed, or you are unable to walk at all. You may have a fracture, broken bone or serious ligament damage.

Is My Ankle Sprained or Broken?

You can determine if your ankle is sprained or broken by analyzing its tenderness level and location. If your ankle bone is tender to the touch then it is most likely broken. If you feel the soft tissue is tender, then your ligaments and tendons are likely sprained. It can be tricky to tell the difference as both present similar symptoms, such as pain, swelling, and bruising. If you believe your foot or ankle may be broken, you should go to an ER and get an X-Ray to determine or rule out the possibility.

R.I.C.E Method for Injuries

ice on ankle

Practicing RICE will help your ankle’s healing process. Many athletes are known to practice these methods when they experience sport-related injuries.

Rest: The worst thing you can do for your foot is to not let it rest. An injury needs healing, a sprained ankle won’t heal in motion. Avoid running and walking long distances.

Ice: Ice will help with the inflammation because it helps remove excess heat from your foot which presents itself after an injury. Ice will also decrease swelling and pain.

Compression: Wrapping up your foot provides support and prevents swelling from building up.

Elevation: Keeping your ankle in an elevated position will help your body absorb the extra fluid that gets caused by excess swelling. You should place your calf on a pillow or cushion. Your ankle should be at an equal level with your heart. Your foot should also be free and not compressed while elevated.

Strength Exercises for Sprained Ankles

When to Go to the ER for a Sprained Ankle

To avoid future sprains or twists, you should learn how to strengthen your ankles to where your balance is perfect. These strength and balance exercises will help you post sprain as well.

  1. To increase ankle strength, you can wrap a resistance band or towel under the ball of your foot and, holding the ends of the band or towel tightly, move your foot in every direction: up, down, to the right and to the left 10 times. You should do this exercise three times a day.
  2. To increase balance, you should stand on one foot (the injured one) on a firm, even surface, then on a foam surface or trampoline, first with your eyes open, then closed. Your foot needs to condition itself to be able to keep its balance under unstable surfaces.

Consequences From Lack of Treatment 

It is important to treat your injuries, no matter the circumstances. Neglecting a sprain will only lead to further complications and permanent damage. Think about these when you are asking yourself, should I go to the er for a sprained ankle?

  • Early-onset arthritis
  • Prolonged discomfort
  • Re-injury
  • Chronic disability

ER Near Me

Stop by any of our 3 locations if you have a sprained or broken ankle. Our River Oaks emergency room, Katy emergency room, and Clear Creek emergency room are ready to assist you at a moment’s notice. At Village Emergency Centers, we strive to provide you and your loved ones quality medical emergency care. Our Houston emergency centers are conveniently open 24/7 and accept walk-ins because we know emergencies are not events that can be planned. Get directions here to visit one of our locations.