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One-Two Punch for Ankle Sprains

If you sprained your ankle this year, you're one of a million people in the United States who did the same. About half of these injuries are sports-related. Besides the usual treatment of RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation), did you take an over-the-counter medication? Doctors often suggest ibuprofen for the pain and swelling.

A new drug called Celecoxib (Celebrex) is now available. Doctors studied 445 adult patients with ankle sprains to see if Celebrex was any better than the usual ibuprofen. Celebrex is part of a group of drugs called COX-2 inhibitors. These drugs are generally easier on the stomach. Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory drugs sometimes cause stomach pain, upset, and even ulcers.

Medications help speed recovery from ankle sprain when taken along with RICE treatments. Ibuprofen and Celebrex are both good at reducing the pain and swelling. Using either of these drugs, patients are able to get back to their normal activities or work. They can do this faster than if no medication is used.

Faster healing is important. Swelling prevents normal ankle motion, keeping the patient from normal walking and activities. Delayed healing can put the patient at risk for another injury. Celebrex added to traditional treatment can speed recovery. It appears to be equal to, but not necessarily better than, ibuprofen for ankle sprains.

Evan F. Ekman, MD, et al. Efficacy of Celecoxib Versus Ibuprofen in the Treatment of Acute Pain: A Multicenter, Double-Blind, Randomized Controlled Trial in Acute Ankle Sprain. In The American Journal of Orthopedics August 2002. Vol. 31. No. 8. Pp. 445-451.

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