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How to Care for a Sprained Ankle

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If you get a sprained ankle, immediate treatment is needed. It’s important to treat the sprain correctly, as not following the right treatment protocol may result in delayed healing, or even further injury.

Tips to Care For A Sprained Ankle

Read our tips below to help you learn how to care for a sprained ankle.doctor examining an ankle of a senior gentleman

Don’t Put Weight On It

The first thing to do is avoid putting weight on the sprained ankle. This may be obvious, but some people have a higher pain tolerance and may try to heroically “push through the pain.” Putting weight on the sprain will only make the sprain take longer to heal, and it might even lead to another injury such as a fracture or fall. If you sprain your ankle someplace where you can’t immediately sit or lie down, ask someone to lean on so you don’t have to bear weight on that ankle.

Elevate the Ankle

Elevate the ankle so it’s above the rest of your body in a reclining position. This helps to control the blood flow to the area, which is what leads to the swelling. You can easily elevate the ankle by resting your foot atop a pillow or folded blankets. Be sure to rest the ankle in a position that doesn’t feel painful.

Chill the Ankle For 24 Hours

For the first 24 hours, you want to chill the ankle. This will help to alleviate the swelling and inflammation so that the injury can begin to heal. Chill the ankle with a cold compress or a bag of crushed ice. Crushed ice works better than cubes because it enables the bag to conform to the shape of the ankle. Never apply ice directly to the skin. Instead, slip the ice bag into a clean sock or pillowcase and then apply to the skin for up to 20 minutes at a time, in order to avoid skin damage. After 20 minutes, wait at least 15 minutes before applying a chilled compress again.

Contact Southeast Orthopedics

After 24 hours, the ankle may still be tender, and you should switch to using warmth to stave off the discomfort. However, if after 24 hours the ankle is still painful enough that you cannot properly walk, you may need to see a doctor. Sprains are easily confused with more serious injuries, and only a professional will be able to diagnose the underlying injury.

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