Ankle Pain – When To See A Doctor

When to see a doctor about ankle injuries

The majority of ankle injuries, especially the minor ones can be treated at home. However, if you have any of the following symptoms you should seek further medical assistance.


When should I seek advice?

  • Severe pain in or around the ankle joint, especially during walking.
  • Severe swelling (oedema) in the ankle.
  • An audible ‘pop’ or ‘crack’ in the ankle joint that is painful, particularly at the back of your ankle where the Achilles tendon is (see Thompson’s test below).

It is possible to rupture your Achilles tendon without realising it. So if in doubt, seek advice from a professional.

  • A feeling as if your ankle ‘locks’ whilst trying to move it.
  • Altered sensation in the foot or ankle. In particular a feeling of ‘pins and needles’ (paresthesia) or a ‘loss of feeling’ (anaesthesia) in your ankle or lower leg. This is often an indication of nerve damage.
  • If you are unable to complete your normal daily activities after an initial 72 hours rest period. This is the acute stage where you should rest and apply cold therapy and compression.

Thompson’s test

Thompson’s test is used to diagnose a torn Achilles tendon.

Who should I seek advice from?

Further medical assistance can be sought through your local doctor or a private clinician, such as a physiotherapist, sports therapist, osteopath or chiropractor.

If you have followed the P.R.I.C.E. principles (see above) and are still unable to walk after 72 hours, or still have severe pain that is not subsiding after the first 72 hours, you should visit your local A&E department for further assessment.

If you have applied P.R.I.C.E. principles and still have weakness or ankle pain that lasts more than 2 weeks.

If you have ongoing discomfort in your joint, we recommend you seek advice from a specialist expert. These include physiotherapists, sports therapists, osteopaths, and chiropractors.

A sports injury professional can provide you with advice and an appropriate and effective recovery and rehabilitation program.

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