What Is the Treatment for Ankle Effusion?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2019
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There are various forms of ankle effusion treatment, depending on the underlying cause of joint swelling as well as individual symptoms and medical concerns. Over-the-counter and prescription medications are often used to reduce inflammation and ease the pain associated with this condition. Ice therapy may be helpful the first couple of days following the injury and is sometimes followed by the use of heat therapy. Additional ankle effusion treatment options include rest, elevation of the affected joint, or the use of supportive devices such as crutches. Any specific questions or concerns involving the best effusion treatment for an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

In some of the milder cases, over-the-counter pain medications may provide sufficient relief of the discomfort caused by effusion of the ankle. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are often recommended because, in addition to providing pain relief, they may also work to reduce inflammation. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium are examples of these medications.

Prescription-strength pain relievers may become necessary in more severe cases of effusion and may be combined with other medications or methods of treatment. Oral steroid drugs may be used to help reduce ankle swelling, although injections directly into the affected joint may be more beneficial for some patients. Steroid injections may need to repeated periodically and do not carry as high a risk of causing negative side effects as oral steroids.


Ice therapy is often recommended for the first couple of days following an injury that results in ankle effusion. Typically, the ice pack is wrapped in a towel and placed on the ankle for about 15 minutes at a time. This process can be repeated several times throughout the day, and the towel helps to prevent damage to the skin. After the swelling has disappeared, warm compresses may be used in the same manner to help relieve discomfort.

Supportive devices such as crutches or a cane may be used by those who need to remain somewhat mobile while recovering from ankle effusion. These devices should be used only when necessary, as the healing process is usually more comfortable and quicker when the ankle is rested and elevated. Before beginning any form of self-treatment for suspected effusion, it is important to consult a doctor to obtain an accurate diagnosis and an individualized treatment plan based on the specific needs of the patient.


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