How to Care for a Sprained Ankle

Sprained AnkleWhether you’re an athlete pushing your limits on the court or simply navigating daily life, the risk of spraining your ankle is higher than you might think. An ankle sprain happens when the ligaments that support the ankle stretch beyond their limits and tear. This injury can range from mild to severe, each requiring unique treatment approaches.

Still, prompt and proper first aid is crucial for optimal recovery and minimizing long-term damage. In this brief article brought to you by Mountain Spring Podiatry, we share some insight on how to care for a sprained ankle.

If you prefer professional foot care by trained, experienced, and licensed foot specialists, then call Mountain Spring Podiatry to schedule a flexible appointment today.

Ankle Sprains Range in Severity

Understanding ankle sprains is fundamental for proper treatment. Ankle sprains can vary in severity. Mild sprains include slight stretching and microscopic tearing of ligament fibers. You may experience mild swelling and tenderness.

Moderate and severe ankle sprains typically warrant a visit to a licensed foot doctor. A partial or complete tear of the ligament can result in significant swelling, tenderness, and instability.

Foot Sprain First Aid: The R.I.C.E Method

The RICE method is a well-known approach to addressing foot sprains. It requires rest, ice, compression, and elevation:

  • Rest: Resting the injured ankle prevents further damage to the ligaments. Avoid putting weight on the injured ankle. Use crutches if necessary to keep weight off the affected foot.
  • Ice: Applying ice reduces swelling and numbs the pain. Use an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a thin towel. Apply ice for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours. Avoid applying ice directly to the skin to prevent frostbite.
  • Compression: Compression helps control swelling and supports the injured area. Use an elastic bandage or compression wrap to snugly wrap the ankle. Start at the toes and work your way up to mid-calf, but do not wrap too tightly as it can cause further swelling below the injury site.
  • Elevation: Elevating the injured ankle above the level of your heart helps reduce swelling by allowing fluids to drain away from the injury. Lie down and prop your ankle on pillows. Do this as often as possible, especially in the first 48 hours.

Foot pain can be anguish, and medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) can help reduce pain and inflammation. Always follow the dosage instructions on the package or as advised by your healthcare provider.

When to see a podiatrist

We can’t help others unless we help ourselves, and self-care or first aid is essential. Still, the passionate podiatrists at Mountain Spring Podiatry are here to help if…

  • If you experience severe pain, significant swelling, or if the pain persists despite initial care.
  • If you cannot put any weight on the injured ankle without significant pain.
  • If the ankle looks misshapen or deformed.
  • If there is no noticeable improvement within a few days, or if symptoms worsen.
  • If you are concerned about your foot and ankle health.

A licensed podiatrist can assess the injury, include the range of motion and stability of your feet and ankles. X-rays or MRI may be required to rule out fractures or more severe ligament damage.

Call Mountain Spring Podiatry if you would like to consult with a knowledgeable member of our team. We’re happy to address questions and concerns, or to schedule a flexible appointment today.