Can I Go To Urgent Care For A Sprained Ankle?
A sprained ankle is an injury that occurs when you roll, twist, or turns your ankle in an awkward way, thereby leading to stretches or tears in your ankle ligaments. Ligaments are responsible for holding your ankle bones together, and forcing these ligaments beyond their normal range of motion may cause injury. Treatment for a sprained ankle depends on the severity of your injury. Generally, it consists of self-care and over-the-counter medication for minor injuries and more serious medical evaluation for severe injuries.
Mira’s research indicates that imaging tests are among the most common diagnostic measures for sprained ankles. You can treat your sprained ankle at various urgent care centers. At urgent care locations, treatment for sprains costs between $180 to $240.
Can I Go To Urgent Care For A Sprained Ankle
You can treat your sprained ankle at multiple urgent care centers or the emergency room.
However, it may be more convenient and cost-effective to visit an urgent care center. The following urgent care clinics offer treatment for sprained ankles:
- ProHealth Circle Urgent Care
- GoHealth Urgent Care
- PhysicianOne Urgent Care
- RapidMed Urgent Care
- MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care
- Physicians Immediate Care
Seeking Treatment for a Sprained Ankle
If you are experiencing a medical emergency due to a sprained ankle, you should immediately seek treatment from an emergency room or another medical professional.
The signs and symptoms of sprained ankles depend on the severity of your injury. The Mayo Clinic cites the following symptoms for sprained ankles:
- Pain, especially when you bear weight on the affected foot
- Tenderness when you touch the ankle
- Restricted range of motion
- Instability in the ankle
- Popping sensation or sound at the time of injury
For many patients, self-care, rest, and over-counter-pain medication (e.g., Advil/Tylenol) will suffice in treating your sprained ankle.
However, if you are experiencing extreme pain and swelling around the ankle area, you should call your doctor and/or seek medical treatment. Your doctor will be best suited to diagnose your injury and decide whether or not you should seek additional treatment.
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How Sprained Ankles Are Diagnosed
For many sprained ankles, you can usually self-diagnose and follow several at-home treatment measures (outlined below). However, your healthcare provider may wish to perform some imaging tests such as X-Rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), CT scans, and/or ultrasounds for more serious injuries.
These imaging tests are often used to assess whether or not there is a broken bone and to better understand the extent of ligament damage. It is important to note that these imaging tests are usually performed if your injury is severe. If you have a minor sprain, your doctor is unlikely to recommend these aforementioned imaging tests.
How Sprained Ankles Are Treated
Treatment for sprained ankles depends on the severity of your injury.
Simple injuries tend to heal on their own with self-care, rest, and over-the-counter pain medication. For at-home treatment, the Mayo Clinic recommends the RICE approach.
- Rest: Avoid activities that cause pain, swelling, or discomfort
- Ice: use an ice pack or ice bath for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours
- Compression: to reduce swelling, wrap your ankle in an elastic bandage, ensuring that you are not hindering circulation by wrapping the compress too tightly
- Elevation: to reduce swelling, elevate your ankle above the level of your heart
For more severe injuries, you should seek treatment from a medical professional. Ultimately, your health care provider will determine what treatment course is best for you. Treatments for severe ankle injuries generally include:
- Cast or Walking Boot
- Physical Therapy
- Surgery to Repair Ligament
- Reconstructive Ligament Surgery
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The Cost to Treat a Sprained Ankle at Urgent Care
While concrete prices vary by urgent care clinics, Mira’s research indicates that the price of sprains can range from $180 to $240 at urgent care clinics if you do not have insurance.
Coupled with administrative fees as well as other diagnostic tests, seeking treatment for a sprained ankle at an urgent care clinic may cost you hundreds to thousands of dollars.
When seeking treatment for a sprained ankle, your total out-of-pocket cost will depend on several factors listed below.
- Insurance Status
- Type of Insurance
- Imaging Tests (e.g., X-Rays)
- Type of Imaging Test (or another diagnostic test)
- Additional Tests and Lab Work
- Prescription Medication / Drugs
- Office Visit + Administrative Fees
Avoiding High Costs for Treating a Sprained Ankle
Seeking help from urgent care can be expensive and non-transparent. Several options can help you reduce your out-of-pocket cost, especially if you do not have insurance or your insurance has high deductibles.
Of course, avoiding sprained ankles in the first place is a great way to save money. Outlined below are several prevention measures:
- Warm-up before exercise
- Be cautious when walking or running on uneven surfaces
- Wear shoes that are appropriate for the activity you are doing
- Avoid high heeled shoes
- Practice stability training
With Mira, your $99 co-pay will cover your entire urgent care visit.
Understanding what might appear on your bill and advocating for yourself during the billing process is essential to saving money. Outlined below are several questions you can ask the team at the urgent care clinic that might help you save money.
- How much is the total out-of-pocket cost?
- How much will an imaging test cost?
- What will my treatment be, and how much will it cost?
- Are there administrative fees or fees for seeing a provider?
- Is one type of medicine cheaper than another?
- Is one type of imaging test cheaper than another?
- What are my alternatives to this course of treatment?
Please note that the information in this article is meant to equip you with the information to decide whether or not to seek medical treatment for a sprained ankle. Mira’s Research Team does not consist of medical professionals, and we merely wish to highlight your options when navigating sprained ankle injuries. If you have specific questions regarding your medical situation, you should contact a healthcare provider.
Spencer is a Public Health & Biology undergraduate student at New York University.