Medications Used in U.S. Emergency Departments for an Ankle Sprain: An Analysis of the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey

Kyle B. Kosik, Matthew C. Hoch, Roger L. Humphries, Alejandro G. Villasante Tezanos, Phillip A. Gribble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: An ankle sprain is a common musculoskeletal injury treated in the emergency department. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation is the preferred method for managing the symptoms after an ankle sprain. However, many patients receive a medication, such as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) or an opioid. Objectives: We sought to quantify the type of medication(s) used for an ankle sprain and to examine those across age and sex. Methods: This was a retrospective review of the publicly available data collected through the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from 2006–2015. All cases with an isolated diagnosis of an ankle sprain were identified. Medication listed for each case was classified based on its detailed category and further explored across all 10 years, age, and sex. Results: An estimated 9,052,678 ankle sprain visits occurred in emergency departments from 2006–2015. NSAIDs (56.1%) and opioid analgesic combination (28.4%) were the 2 most common medications. Regardless of the type, most medications were prescribed at discharge. The use of NSAIDs appears to have increased while opioid analgesic combinations decreased in 2010. NSAIDs were the most common medication identified with each age cohort; however, there was no apparent trend in medication for sex. Conclusions: NSAIDs are the most common medication used for ankle sprain visits to the ED. Nevertheless, an opioid is also used at a relatively high rate for this injury. These findings provide awareness and opportunity to focus on strategies for reduction of opioid use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)662-670
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • opioids
  • sports medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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