First Aid Tip: How to Treat a Sprained Ankle

The first thing that crosses my mind whenever I see a woman walking in stilettos is that there is a sprained ankle waiting to happen. Even though spraining does not seem like a severe injury, it actually can become one if you do not treat it properly. In the following few paragraphs you will read about the things you should focus on when having sprained your ankle.

What is a sprained ankle?

The best way to deal with a problem is to define it. Not every ankle injury is a spraining – it can even be a broken bone or something else. However, a sprained ankle means that you have stretched or torn one or more ligaments on the outer side of your ankle. This can happen due to walking on uneven surfaces or in the aforementioned high heels, or even during sports activities. A sprained ankle causes pain and it is characterised by swelling and bruising. Only a doctor can tell you with certainty if you have a fracture (broken bone) or a simple spraining via X-ray, so if you happen to hurt your foot or ankle, the first thing you should do is to go to a doctor’s, physician or an emergency department where they can check with certainty what is wrong with your ankle.

How to treat a sprained ankle?

If you want to prevent chronic pain and instability in a sprained ankle, these are the steps in treating it (pun intended):

Ice – The first thing you should do is to prevent your ankle from swelling using ice. Do not put it directly onto the skin; you can use a thin cloth or a towel to avoid direct contact. Apply ice in every 20 minutes, then make a break of the same length and repeat. This way, you will avoid frost bite, and prevent pain caused by cold.

Compression – The next important step is to immobilise your injury by compression. Use either a cloth, gauze, shirt, anything which will control the swelling and immobilise your hurt foot. If you have a first aid kit, you can use an elastic compression wrap or a protective brace; however, to not apply them too tightly in order for the blood to flow naturally.

Elevate – In order to avoid further swelling and bruising, you should recline and prop your foot above the waist (or above the level heart) for at least two hours a day.

Rest Do not use your ankle for walking. If you really have to walk (for example, to go to the toilet), limit weight bearing by using crutches or any other kind of physio equipment you need so as to support the ankle and avoid falling down again.

Rehabilitation process

After you have successfully treated your ankle, now is the time for the rehabilitation process to start. If you feel excessive pain, you can use some painkillers for it, but the best way would be to let your ligaments rest and recover naturally. Once you have protected your ankle and left it heal, the next phase of recovery includes restoring your flexibility. This does not mean that you should do motion exercises the next day after the injury, no. Your ankle needs to regain strength (for example, you can do rehabilitation exercises and you will be able to use it again only after it gradually manages to work on its own. In the following few weeks (and even months), it would be best if you avoided sports activities and any other type of physical exercise which could hurt your ankle again. Slow down whenever you feel your body is sending you warning signs that something is wrong, and your ligaments and muscles will recover better on their own.

And finally, if the pain in your ankle is unbearable, the odds are that you are going to have to visit a doctor and they can recommend you not using until your foot and ankle until they recover. And remember, rest as much as you can and do not pressure or use your hurt ankle for a few days, and your ligaments will be almost as good as new in a few weeks. The important thing is not to exhaust it and leave it heal for some time.