ZocdocAnswersIs there anything I need to do for a sprained ankle if the pain isn?t too bad?

Question

Is there anything I need to do for a sprained ankle if the pain isn?t too bad?

Rolled my ankle when I was chasing after a frisbee my friend threw at the park. My ankle hurts, but I take Advil and its okay. It is swollen and black and blue, but I?ve been icing it. Do I need to do anything else or just wait for it to heal?

Answer

Ankle sprains can be frustrating and painful. Even though it may not seem like a serious injury, you should follow up with your physician to ensure no other serious damage has occurred. You are correct to place ice on the swelling. A way to remember the appropriate steps to treat a swelling is RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Rest is important because without it, you can cause more strain to the area, leading to more inflammation and possibly further injury. Ice, as you might already know, is wonderful for swellings because it not only helps relieve pain, but also decreases the inflammation. To use ice appropriately, you should place it on the affected area for about 20 minutes and then let the area relax. You can wrap the ice in a paper towel or thin towel so that the ice is not directly on the skin. However, you do not want to overuse ice because it can lead of decreased blood flow to the area. Compression with an ACE bandage can help decrease swelling from the inflammatory process. Again, you do not want to overuse compression or wrap the area too tightly because you can decrease blood flow. Lastly, elevation of the affected area will help decrease the swelling. This works by increasing blood flow back to the heart instead of allowing it to pool in your leg. Even though these treatments can help with symptoms, you should follow up with your primary care doctor to ensure there are no other worrisome symptoms.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.