When it comes to sprains, ankles are one of the most common injured areas. Since ankle ligaments need to withstand prolonged pressure and stress, especially in sports, it is unavoidable that the ligament fibers get overly stretched and become partially or completely torn.
Jumping, rolling, or any activities that involve treading on uneven surfaces can cause twisted or overstretched ankle ligaments. While these cases are considered mild ankle sprains and can be treated at home, it is still important to seek professional help, specifically if you have already sprained your ankle in the past.
Let us walk through the first aid method called R.I.C.E. that you can do to relieve you of any soreness, bruising, or pain from your mild ankle sprain:
As soon as you feel any discomfort, soreness, or difficulty in bearing weight on your ankle, your body is signaling you to take a break to avoid overstretching or tearing your ligaments.
Depending on the injury severity, you would need to rest your injured limb for 48 to 72 hours. During this period, avoid bearing weight on your ankle and, if available, use crutches to offload some pressure off your affected foot and ankle.
If the injury is unbearable that even resting it feels too painful, seeking immediate medical attention is your next best move. Visit this site to know what to look for in your ankle injury doctor.
When it comes to pain and swelling relief, cold compress is one of the easiest and quickest remedies. Cold compress constricts blood vessels and restricts blood circulation to the injury site, giving quick relief and pain numbing.
If you have no commercial cold compress product available, simply fill a plastic bag with crushed ice and wrap it in a wet cloth. Apply it to the affected limb for 15-20 minutes every 2 hours on days 1 to 2 of the injury. Then, apply it for 15-20 minutes every 4 hours past the first two days until the swelling subsides.
Although cold compress is an effective pain and swelling relief, be mindful not to apply it for too long to your injury. Doing so can cause tissue damage and restricted circulation in the affected area.
To further minimize swelling in the injured limb, it is advisable to use compressive wraps or pressure bandages for prolonged pressure on the affected area. This prevents fluids from gathering at the injury site, so swelling and stiffness are reduced.
Using materials made of neoprene or elastic is recommended, since the compression should be as taut as possible without restricting blood circulation at the affected limb. You can add pressure by placing rolled-up tissues or foam on both sides of the sprained ankle.
Although compressing the injured ankle is important, overly-tight compression can have the opposite effect. If you feel tingling, coolness or bluing of skin, or increased pain and swelling in the injury site, it is a sign that you have to loosen the wrap or bandage.
Keeping the affected foot elevated above heart level helps reduce swelling, which is why it is especially useful in the first 24 hours of the injury. Since elevation lowers the pressure on the blood vessels around the injury site, elevation also helps reduce bleeding.
In elevating the affected foot, it is more effective to do so while lying with pillows under the foot since it is above heart level. Whenever possible, it is best to keep your affected limb propped up and elevated. This is why placing pillows beneath your foot as support ensures you can comfortably keep your foot elevated for an extended period.
When it comes to rehabilitating your ankle health, make sure to avoid immediately reaggravating your ankle to promote rest and recovery to the affected ligament. It is also advisable to keep your home’s accident-prone areas, such as kitchens, clear from accident risks. Stretching, strengthening exercises, and even the right kind of shoes can also help in the recovery of your sprained ankle.
Post-injury, you can gradually resume your regular habits if the swelling has gone down, you can carry weight without issues, you have regained your full range of motion, you can resume your activities pain-free, and if your ankle injury doctor has given you the green light. Patience is key since ankle sprains can take days to months to fully recover. Reaggravating your unhealed sprain increases the likeliness of the injury recurring in the future.
Ankle sprains can happen to all people of all activity levels. Whether you are a young adult who regularly plays sports or a senior who needs to pack up for a long-distance haul, twisting your ankle can happen from the heaviest activities up to the most mundane tasks. Always remember R.I.C.E. and to seek medical attention if the ankle sprain becomes recurring.
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