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Toe, Foot, and Ankle Injuries

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Home Treatment

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Home treatment for a minor foot or ankle injury

If you have a minor injury, try home treatment measures to relieve pain, swelling, and stiffness.

  • Be sure to remove all rings, anklets, or any other jewelry that goes around a leg or ankle. It will be harder to remove the jewelry later if swelling increases.
  • Use rest, ice, compression camera.gif, and elevation (RICE) to relieve pain and swelling.
  • Clean a skin wound as soon as possible to help prevent infection, scarring, and tattooing of the skin from dirt left in the wound. The bacteria Pseudomonas is a common cause of infections when a puncture wound occurs through the sole of an athletic shoe.
  • If you have pain from blood under a nail, you can drain camera.gif it to relieve the pain.
  • Walk or bear weight on your affected foot as long as it is not painful. If it is painful and the pain continues, check your symptoms again.
  • Gently massage or rub the area to relieve pain and encourage blood flow. Do not massage the injured area if it causes pain.
  • For the first 48 hours after your injury, avoid things that might increase swelling in the injured area, such as hot showers, hot tubs, hot packs, or alcoholic beverages.
  • After 48 to 72 hours, if your swelling is gone, apply heat and begin gentle exercise to help restore and maintain flexibility. Some experts recommend alternating between heat and cold treatments (contrast baths).
  • Start exercises using the MSA process (gentle exercise). MSA stands for movement, strength, and alternate activities.
    • Movement. Resume a full range of motion as soon as possible after an injury. After 24 to 48 hours of rest, begin moving the injured area. Stop any activity if it causes pain, and give the injured area more rest. Gentle stretching will prevent scar tissue formation that may decrease movement.
    • Strength. As soon as the swelling is gone and range of motion is restored, begin gradual efforts to strengthen the injured area.
    • Alternate activities. After the first few days but while the injury is still healing, phase in regular exercise using activities or sports that do not place a strain on the injured area. If certain activities cause pain, stop doing those activities but continue doing your other exercises.

Range-of-motion exercises

Begin gentle range-of-motion exercises right after your injury while you have ice on your ankle. Perform a set of exercises by repeating them 10 to 30 times. Do each set 3 to 5 times a day.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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