Medicines for Sprained Ankle

A sprained ankle is a common injury that 25,000 people experience each day, states the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) 4. A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments that hold the ankle bones together are stretched or torn. This injury causes pain and inflammation to develop in the ankle. A patient should avoid walking on the ankle, ice the injury and elevate the ankle above the heart for 48 hours. In addition to these treatments, a patient may need to take medication to reduce swelling and control ankle pain.


Aleve, or naproxen sodium, is commonly used to help treat an ankle sprain, according to the AAOS. Aleve is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that reduces chemical signals that cause pain and swelling after an ankle sprain. This medication is available over-the-counter (OTC), and in stronger prescription forms. A patient should follow the direction on the drug label, and take the medication as directed to treat an ankle sprain. Patients with stomach, kidney, liver or heart problems should avoid taking Aleve as it may further complicate these conditions. Serious side effects include:

  • stomach pain
  • vomiting blood
  • coughing blood
  • bloody stools
  • clay-colored stools
  • dark urine


Tylenol is a common medication used to treat an ankle sprain. Tylenol is a pain reliever and fever reducer that reduces chemical signals in the brain that are related to the pain. An ankle sprain produces chemical signals that Tylenol can block. Although effective in controlling pain, Tylenol does not reduce inflammation related to an ankle sprain. Tylenol is available OTC, and a patient should not take more than 1 g per dose and 4 g per day to avoid serious liver damage, states 123. Signs of liver damage include stomach pain, clay-colored stools and dark urine. A patient experiencing these signs should seek emergency medical treatment.

Capsaicin Cream

Capsaicin cream is a topical medicine that can be used to control pain related to an ankle sprain, states 123. This medication contains the substance that makes chili peppers spicy. When applied to the sprained ankle, it causes a burning sensation that subsides after a few minutes. The burning sensation is thought to reduce substance P, a chemical signal in the nerves that causes pain. As levels of substance P decrease, ankle pain is decreased. This medication is safe to use; however, a patient should always wash his hands to avoid getting capsaicin cream in the eyes or on other mucus membranes 2.

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