A sprained ankle is the most common ankle injury, and it occurs when one or more of the ligaments have been twisted, torn, or stretched. With a minor sprain, some of the fibers within the ligament are stretched – but with more serious sprains, the ligament might be torn.
Most minor sprains can be treated at home, but anything more than that needs prompt medical attention and might even require surgery. If you’re in doubt, you should get yourself to the hospital for an X-ray.
Below are 6 first aid steps that you should take if you suspect that you have sprained your ankle.
1. Rest the Leg
You should immediately stop the activity that caused the injury, sit down, and rest the ankle. Make sure to support it in a raised position.
2. Cool with Ice
Cool your ankle with some ice to help reduce swelling and pain. Ideally, you should wrap a bag of ice or frozen peas in a cloth and place it on your ankle. Don’t put the ice straight onto the skin, as this will cause a cold burn. Leave the ice in place for around 20 minutes.
3. Apply Pressure
Leave the compress in place if it’s small, or wrap a layer of soft padding, such as some cotton wool, around your ankle. Apply pressure with a compression support or compression bandage to help limit the swelling. This should extend from the toes to the knee.
4. Elevate the Ankle
Raise and support your ankle so that it’s higher than your hip to help prevent swelling – and make sure to get adequate rest. If your injury seems serious, get to the hospital.
5. Check Circulation
Make sure that the bandage is not too tight. Press on one of your toenails until it turns white, then let go. The color should return very quickly. If it doesn’t, the bandage is too tight; remove it and reapply. Recheck every ten minutes.
6. Reapply the Cold Compress over the Bandage Every 2-3 Hours
Remove the bandage at night and don’t sleep with an ice pack on the injury.