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Ankle Injuries: Causes and Treatments

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What Should Someone Do After an Ankle Injury?

You can apply first aid for an ankle injury by remembering R.I.C.E: rest, ice, compression, elevation.

  • Rest. It's important to rest the ankle to prevent  further damage and keep weight off of it.
  • Ice. Using ice will help slow or reduce the swelling and provide a numbing sensation that will ease the pain. Proper icing includes icing within 48 hours of an injury, never leave ice on for longer than 15 minutes to 20 minutes at a time to prevent frostbite. Wait 40 minutes to 45 minutes before applying ice again to allow tissues to return to normal temperature and sensation, and repeat as needed. You can apply an ice compress using a plastic freezer bag filled with ice cubes and water to mold to your ankle or use a frozen bag of veggies like corn or peas, (don’t eat them after you use them and refreeze them), use a layer of towel between your skin and the plastic bag.
  • Compression. Wrapping the injured ankle with an elastic bandage or off-the-shelf compression wrap will help keep it immobile and supported. Be sure not to wrap the ankle too tightly.  If your toes that turn blue, get cold or lose sensation the wrap is too tight. 
  • Elevate. Elevating the injured ankle to at least the level of your heart will reduce swelling and pain.

It is important not to put any weight on the ankle until after it's been evaluated by a doctor, which should be done as soon as possible. Fractures and sprains that are ignored or aren't treated properly can lead to long-term chronic problems with the ankle, such as repeated injury, ankle weakness, and arthritis.

How Does the Doctor Diagnose an Ankle Injury?

The first thing a doctor will do is ask questions about how the injury occurred. Then the doctor will examine the ankle, noting the amount of swelling and bruising. The physical examination of the ankle may be painful because the doctor needs to move the ankle to evaluate the pain and swelling in order to make a proper diagnosis.

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