Wrist and Ankle Sprains: When to See a Doctor

Wrist and ankle sprains can happen much more easily than expected. From simply walking and tripping over an uneven sidewalk to slipping while shoveling to getting injured while playing a sport, sprains are pretty common. In fact, reports show that about 25,000 Americans sustain an ankle sprain every day. So what do you do when you sprain your wrist or ankle? Let's take a look at a few symptoms and treatment options for sprains.

urgent care for kids

First off, what exactly is a sprain? A sprain occurs when the ligaments in the joint are twisted turned, or damaged in another way. The ligaments may get torn or stretched too far if they're pushed beyond their normal limits. Wrist and ankle sprains can vary from minor damage to a completely torn ligament.


It's important to know some warning signs of a sprain. Because there is a wide variety of wrist and ankle injuries that are similar, it can sometimes be difficult to tell if a joint is really sprained or just sore. Some common symptoms of a sprain may include:


  • Pain

  • Tenderness or warmth

  • Bruising

  • Swelling

  • A popping or tearing feeling


Depending on the level of pain, a doctor may be able to diagnose a sprain with a simple physical exam. If there are other concerning symptoms and the doctor thinks it might be more serious, patients may also receive an MRI or x-ray services.


While they can be pretty painful, minor sprains can luckily be treated with rest and ice. The injured wrist or ankle should be elevated and be kept immobile right after the injury.


Unfortunately, not all sprains are minor. If a young athlete receives a sprain, they should be taken to an urgent care for kids. All sprains should be looked at by a doctor but especially concerning symptoms include:


  • Bone misalignment

  • Significant swelling

  • Numbess

  • Bleeding

  • Extreme tenderness

  • Worsening pain

  • Change in color


If any of these symptoms occur, a visit to a doctor's office is a must. For young kids, a trip to urgent care for kids can help diagnose and treat the sprain quickly.


Most sprains aren't serious and can heal quickly with proper rest and icing. But because sprains can be severe, if you suspect a wrist or ankle sprain, make sure to visit a doctor just to be safe.