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Ankle ligament strain, sometimes known as a sprained ankle, is the result of stretching or tearing of the connective tissue, known as ligaments, around the ankle bone. In severe cases where ligaments are torn entirely, medical assistance may be required for proper healing. Most of these strains simply require rest and home remedies for treatment.
Many tips for ankle ligament strain therapies exist that have been proven to be effective. The first line of treatment to immediately treat a strain or sprain may be remembered with the acronym RICE, standing for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Individuals that have injured their ankle should refrain from moving around on it, and ice packs should be applied to the source of pain for 15 minutes at a time, every two hours. Tight bandaging compresses the injury and prevents ligaments from stretching further, and elevating the leg keeps helps to limit internal bleeding and bruising.
Extended home treatments related to these steps may be performed at home later, while the individual is recovering from ankle ligament strain. To secure the ankle and keep it from involuntary motion while resting, a brace or splint may be used. Crutches can help from putting unnecessary weight on the ankle when moving, which could further injure it and retard the healing process.
Ice should not be applied directly to the skin. Instead, putting a towel between the ice and the skin can help avoid frostbite, which can only worsen the ankle's condition. An ice pack or ice bag also can serve the same purpose. Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) when using ice every two hours can decrease swelling and pain more than either method used on their own.
Elastic wraps are the best way to compress an injury area, and will also keep the ankle from moving. They may be worn beneath another bandage securing the ankle to a splint. Wraps should be performed tightly for maximum relief of symptoms and will minimize potential bleeding. These wraps may also help to prevent frostbite when ice is applied.
Elevating the ankle should place the foot above the plane of the heart to minimize blood flow upward to this area. Reclining chairs are the most comfortable ways to ensure elevation. Patients that do not have access to a reclining chair may stack pillows on a bed or sofa to allow the leg to be raised comfortably, with similar results.