As with any medical issue, some foot and ankle problems definitely require a visit to a doctor's office or emergency room. For example, if you break any of the numerous bones in your lower limbs, it’s important to see a doctor and have the area x-rayed to at least ensure the broken ends are lined up for proper healing (or have them placed in position).
Conversely, there are certain foot and ankle problems you can—and should—perform at least to a certain degree of diagnosis and treatment on your own. Such is the case with ankle sprains.
Before we discuss appropriate care for an ankle sprain, we need to note that severe injuries normally require professional treatment. In the event of intense pain following a sprain—or if you’ve been attempting to treat the injury on your own, but without the results you should see—schedule an appointment with Advanced Foot & Ankle. We will evaluate the injury for you, and then create an effective treatment plan to resolve it.
Treating an Ankle Sprain At Home
Ankle sprains are typically accompanied by pain and swelling, along with difficulty placing weight on the affected foot. When you experience these kinds of symptoms after rolling your foot in an awkward fashion, start with the following first aid steps:
- Rest – Too often—especially for those who are physically active—people sprain an ankle and then try to get back to their activities too quickly. Always remember, rest is essential so your body can begin repairing damaged tissues. Do not try to rush back to your exercise routine, sports, or other physical activities. Doing so increases the risk for chronic problems in the ankle.
- Ice – When you sprain an ankle, it is important that you take measures to reduce swelling and inflammation. Ice is beneficial for that, and it also helps to relieve pain from the injury. When you use cold therapy as part of your ankle sprain treatment, make sure you wrap the ice or ice pack in a thin towel before applying it (so you don’t damage the skin). Also, you should only keep the wrapped ice on the area for 20 minutes at the most (per each icing session).
- Compression – Placing pressure on the area is another way to reduce swelling from an ankle sprain. To do this, use a fabric bandage and wrap it tightly around the affected ankle. Make sure you don’t wrap it too tightly, though. You will know it’s too tight (and needs to be loosened) if you experience tingling sensations and/or numbness.
- Elevation – Much like with compression, elevating the sprained ankle above the level of your heart will reduce swelling. A good way to do this is lay down and prop your foot up on some pillows, especially because you are supposed to be resting!
- Medication – In the event the inflammation and pain is more intense, you may want to consider taking an over-the-counter pain reliever with anti-inflammatory properties. Be sure to call our office first for a professional dosage recommendation.