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Seven Ways to Deal with a Sprained Ankle

By Brian Acton

Sprained ankles sound like minor injuries until you suffer one, and your routine is majorly disrupted. Just walking around can be extremely difficult and painful with a sprain. The problem is compounded if you’re usually very active or if your job requires you to be on your feet. While there’s no quick fix for a sprained ankle, there are things you can do to aid recovery and get back on your feet. Here are seven ways to deal with a sprained ankle.
  1. Cold Therapy
Applying cold to your ankle for the first two to three days after your sprain can make a big difference. You should ice your ankle every few hours for 10 to 20 minutes. The cold can help reduce swelling and provide pain relief. You can use hot and cold packs, but a Ziploc bag or bucket full of ice will do in a pinch.
  1. Elevation
Anytime you sit or lie down, you should elevate your ankle above the level of your heart. This can reduce bruising and keep down swelling. You should try to keep your ankle elevated for two to three hours per day.
  1. Compression
Applying compression to your ankle will also help reduce swelling and bruising. Wrapping the effected ankle in an elastic bandage will do the trick. Try not to wrap the bandage too tight - if it feels numb or the pain worsens, loosen the bandage a bit.
  1. OTC Medication
Over the counter pain relief medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help manage the pain of a sprained ankle. NSAIDS such as Aleve will also fight pain, but reduce swelling as well. Check your medicine cabinet if you need a little relief.
  1. Ankle Supports
When you still have to get around, an ankle support or brace can help. These supports wrap around your ankle to give you better stability, and they apply compression to reduce swelling. They’re easily adjustable and one size should fit most ankles.
  1. Exercises
While you want to take it easy most of the time, you should perform some regular, light exercises. You can do range-of-motion exercises to improve your ankle mobility, stretching exercises to limber up, and strengthening exercises to bulk up your muscles and prevent future injury. Check out webmd.com for a good list of ankle exercises for sprained ankles.
  1. Rest
Resting is one of the most important things you can do for your ankle. If you try to maintain your normal level of activity after a sprain, you could make the damage worse or re-injure yourself. You should avoid walking or standing on your ankle as much as possible. When you can put your feet up, don’t forget to elevate!
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