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What is the Best Treatment for a Twisted Ankle?

By Caitlin Shih
Updated May 17, 2024
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The first thing one should do when addressing an ankle sprain is to identify the extent of the problem. Medical treatment for a twisted ankle may be necessary in certain, more severe cases. For other minor instances, the most effective treatment method tends to be what is generally referred to as Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, or RICE. This is a common healing method for most minor soft tissue injuries, and the combination of the four aspects of RICE will normally be adequate treatment for a twisted ankle.

Certain symptoms will reveal if the injury needs medical attention and will most likely not respond adequately to regular home treatment for a twisted ankle. In most cases, a complete inability to walk or apply any weight onto the affected ankle is the most obvious indicator that it requires medical treatment. This will usually accompany an extreme amount of pain and swelling, and, if untreated, symptoms will usually persist over a period longer than several days. This level of ankle sprain generally involves an almost complete tear in the ligament and will normally require medical attention in order to obtain proper rehabilitation.

Rest is the first tenet of the RICE treatment method, and is a vital part of any kind of treatment for a twisted ankle. Individuals should not use the ankle for days or even as long as a week, if necessary, although light activities that add no stress to the joint can sometimes be permissible. In addition, when the ankle is stationary, it should be cushioned so as not to add unnecessary pressure from contact with a hard surface. Excessive strain on the affected joint will only exacerbate pain and inflammation, stunting recovery and potentially leading to abnormalities in the tissue repair process.

The injured should use cold compresses, ice packs or any form of immediate cold as soon as possible after the injury. Ice is often a powerful agent in reducing swelling and numbing pain. Users can apply the ice pack on and off for as long as needed for swelling or pain. It is not recommended to keep the ice in continual contact with the skin for more than approximately 15 minutes at a time because of the risk of freezing and possible further injury.

Compression involves the bandaging of one's ankle in order to keep unnecessary and potentially counterproductive swelling to a minimum. Elastic bandages are generally more effective for this method of treatment for a twisted ankle, and the injured should wrap the area gently enough so they don't cut off circulation. It is generally advisable to wrap from the toes up in order to keep blood from rushing to that region.

Elevation involves keeping the ankle above one's heart as often as possible. This aids in reducing swelling by using gravity to draw blood away from the affected area. Blood will circulate more easily as a result of the minimized strain on the blood vessels.

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