The First Thing You Should Do If You Sprain Your Ankle

An ankle sprain is an injury that occurs when one or more ligaments stretch or tear after the foot is accidentally rolled inward. This can be quite painful and is often accompanied by a host of other unpleasant symptoms, including swelling (via Everyday Health). While sprained ankles are most common among runners and athletes, anyone can sprain their ankle at any time.

That's why it's important to know how to treat and care for your ankle as soon as the injury occurs. The first thing you should do after spraining your ankle is sit down and take your weight off of it. Continuing to stand on your sprained ankle will apply pressure to the affected area, which can worsen your injury and cause further damage (per Medical News Today). Sitting or lying down can help take the pressure off your injured ankle. Elevating it can also reduce any swelling that occurs following the injury.

Use the RICE method

You can continue to treat your sprain at home by following the RICE method (via Medical News Today). RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. The goal of the RICE method is to control and reduce swelling and inflammation in the days following the injury.

You can stabilize your ankle by wearing a brace and avoiding any activities that may worsen your symptoms. This is an essential step of the healing process that will reduce the risk of further injury. Secondly, you can ice your sprained ankle with a cold pack for up to 20 minutes at a time every 2 hours while you are awake, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. This can divert blood flow away from the injury, which may help reduce swelling.

Compression is another effective way to alleviate swelling while stabilizing the injured area. You can do this by compressing your injured ankle with a bandage or brace. It should be snug, but not so tight that it causes additional pain or numbness. It's also important to elevate your ankle as much as you can while it's healing. Keeping your ankle elevated above your heart can help ease pain, as well as improve circulation to promote healing, according to Everyday Health

The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons recommends seeing a doctor if you suffer an ankle sprain. A medical professional can assess the severity of the injury and provide insight into long-term treatments.