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Sprained ankle and ice

Most people who sprain their ankle know of the RICE protocol; Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate - and they apply it at the first sign of pain and swelling. This is a smart thing to do because ice, if applied early on, does get rid of some of the pain and swelling.

Care should be taken when icing your ankle or any part of the body, since ice can cause burn to the skin in the same way that heat can. Therefore the ice pack, frozen peas or bag of ice you may be using should be left on no longer than fifteen to twenty minutes then taken off for twenty minutes cycles throughout the day. This is the safe way to do it, but a more effective way is to place the ankle in a basin of ice cold water for the same time interval. If you suffer from a chronic condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure you should ask your doctor about this first.

After the initial period of icing, you may find that your ankle is still stiff, swollen and painful, and you are still immobile. Treating the ankle with rest and icing can take up to several weeks and at the end of that time you will have a joint which is weak and inflexible and more prone to injury. In fact, walking about on a weak ankle can throw your body out of alignment and this may result in knee, hip and back pain. Therefore you are better off mobilising the joint as early as possible to avoid causing further injury to your body.

An early program of stretching and strengthening exercises will reduce pain and stiffness and promote flexibility and movement. Exercises that stretch the ankle and the calf are especially recommended as calf muscles tend to become tight to protect the sprained ankle. The H.E.M. technique is a form of exercise that may restore healing to a sprained ankle in a matter of days instead of weeks and can be done by anyone at home or even in bed.

You do not have to resign yourself to hobbling with a cane or stick if you sprained your ankle. See us for an assessment and treatment plan.


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