You asked, we answered: What should you do for a sprained ankle, and when should you see a doctor?

Woman sitting on a bench in the woods, holding her ankle


I slipped unexpectedly and fell on the outside of my ankle when rock climbing this morning. I fell from about 3 feet off the ground. My ankle hurt terribly, and I’ve been off it all day. I think it’s sprained. Should I go to the doctor? 

Answer from orthopaedic surgeon Alex Sawatzke, MD:

Falling from a height of 3 feet is enough to break a bone in or around your ankle. If your ankle is extremely swollen or bruised, or you can’t put any weight on it, visit your doctor or urgent care. You may need an X-ray to check for broken bones.

If the pain, bruising and swelling aren’t too severe and you can put some weight on your ankle, it may be a sprain. I’d recommend resting your ankle, putting ice on it, using a compression wrap, and elevating it if possible. If you’re able to take over-the-counter pain relievers, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, they can help relieve pain and inflammation.

If, after resting your ankle for a day, your symptoms worsen or you can’t put weight on it, it’s time to see a health care provider.

Nebraska Medicine has several immediate care clinics that you can visit without an appointment. The Orthopaedics Clinic at Bellevue Health Center also holds a walk-in clinic every Wednesday. Patients are welcome from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. No appointment is needed.

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These are anonymous questions, so we can’t give one-on-one medical advice in this format. It’s important to see a health care provider to evaluate your injury and provide the appropriate treatment. For medical advice specific to your unique condition, schedule an appointment at 800.922.0000.