When should I see a doctor for foot or ankle problems?

Dr. Joan R. Williams, MD
Orthopedic Surgeon

You should see a doctor for foot or ankle problems under the following conditions: 

  • You are unable to put weight on the foot without pain.
  • Your pain is getting progressively worse, rather than better with rest.
  • There is significant swelling, bruising, or any exposed tendons or bones.
  • You continue to have symptoms after resting for about four to six weeks.

When foot or ankle problems affect daily life, a patient should seek medical care.

It is always good to seek medical attention whenever there is an acute traumatic injury with a possibility of a fracture or dislocation, including foot and ankle problems. For overuse injuries, try RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation. You can also take an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for pain and swelling. If the symptoms are getting worse or simply not improving, you should consult your doctor.

Sprains and strains can usually be treated at home, but if there's no improvement you'll need to see a doctor.

You should see a doctor for foot and ankle problems whenever you have pain that affects your daily life.

Continue Learning about Foot and Ankle Conditions

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.