Anti-inflammatories in ankle sprains

Ankle sprains are frequently seen and treated in our clinics. Not surprisingly they are one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries as they affect the general population and those participating in sports.

Ankle sprain Treatment

The first line of treatment for ankle sprains is based on the concept of RICE, which stands for Rest, Icing, Compression, and Elevation. In this other article you’ll be able to read more about the benefits of the RICE treatment for ankle sprains, as well as learn more about the scientific evidence behind it.

Pain management is an extremely important part in the overall treatment for ankle sprains, allowing for a faster recovery and return to activities. Depending on the severity of the sprain, the RICE strategy might not be enough to get on top of the pain and the use of medication can be highly beneficial.

The body’s natural healing elements will come into play whenever an injury is sustained, including straight after an ankle sprain. The way our bodies can heal from injuries is through an inflammatory response, therefore inflammation is somehow beneficial as it is an attempt of the body to repair damaged structures. Through this healing process, multiple pathways are activated including those that reproduce pain. So when using pain killers we might be tackling pain and in turn the natural healing process which raises concerns about potentially delaying healing times.

Painkillers vs NSAIDs

Broadly speaking there are two types of pain medication drugs. The most common are the group of NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), which as the name implies, have anti-inflammatory effects in addition to relieving pain. The other group does not provide anti-inflammatory relief and only has analgesic (pain-relief) activity.

NSAIDs list

A common group of NSAID examples is listed below:

  • Ibuprofen (Nurofen ® , Brufen ®)
  • Aspirin (Naprosyn ®)
  • Naproxen (Naprosyn ®)
  • Diclofenac (Voltarol ®, Diclomax ®)
  • Indometacin (Indocid ®)
  • Celecoxib (Celebrex ®)

Pain killers list (non NSAIDS)

  • Paracetamol (Panadol ®, Calpol ®)
  • Codeine (Co-codamol when combined with Paracetamol) (Zapain ®, Tylex ®)
  • Dihydrocodeine (Co-Dydramol ®)

The inflammatory phase of healing is the first of many and so once completed after a few days from the injury the negative effect of anti-inflammatories may be insignificant. This is why some researchers have proposed that NSAIDs are withheld in the immediate post-injury phase when the inflammatory process is at its peak, or during the first 48 hours. Instead, painkillers non NSAIDs (i.e Paracetamol) would be preferred to control pain during the early stages of ankle sprains. Both types of painkillers have a safe profile but always consult with your doctor before taking medication to be on the safe side.

Recognising the signs and symptoms of these conditions is crucial for seeking timely medical attention. Mr Francesc Malagelada is dedicated to diagnosing and treating various foot and ankle conditions, providing personalised treatment plans to address your specific needs and help you get back on your feet comfortably. Contact us and book an appointment today!

Keep in mind that our blog is also a great place if you’d like to stay updated on the latest orthopaedic news.

This article is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult your physician for personalised guidance. In case of a medical emergency, contact your doctor or emergency services.