The diagnosis of ankle injuries is made primarily with examination. Depending on the amount of swelling, the location of pain, and the stability of the ankle on examination most diagnoses can clearly be made. When there is an area of bony tenderness aside from the usual ankle sprain pain or an indication of instability, x-rays are often helpful.
The treatment of an ankle injury depends on the diagnosis of the exact problem. Typically, elevation, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications are helpful in all these situations. Avoid the application of heat for at least two weeks. Sometimes taping or an air stirrup are helpful. For more severe strains a cast or walking boot can be used. Physical therapy for ankle strengthening and motion is often used for more severe injuries. For those ankles that are unstable on x-ray or have an unstable fracture, surgery is indicated. In those instances where someone has recurrent ankle instability despite rehabilitation and conservative treatment, surgical repair of their ligaments can be performed.