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Treating a Sprained Ankle

If you are a regular walker sooner or later you are going to suffer from some common injuries such as sprained or twisted ankle, bruised knees or feet. Ankle sprain can happen very easily on uneven ground, jumping from a height or even stepping off a kerb. While some injuries may need the attention of a doctor you can take steps to ease the pain and limit swelling with some first aid.

There are five steps to treating an ankle sprain - protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation. To remember these steps more easily think of the acronym PRICE. Following these five recommendations helps to ease pain and swelling and promotes quicker healing.

Protection: It makes sense to protect the affected part from further injury so stop whatever activity you are doing, get assistance to a convenient place to sit or use your walking poles to keep the foot off the ground. Do whatever you can to keep weight off the foot.
Rest: Rest is essential to promote healing so cancel all activities which involve walking for a few days until healing begins. Do as little as possible.
Ice: If you can place an ice pack on the ankle. Wrap the ice pack in a towel or some item of clothing as ice burns. Cold stops the blood flow to the injured area and so helps to prevent swelling. Failing an ice pack you can put the ankle under cold running water, put the ankle into a bucket of cold water or use a cold compress. Never leave ice on for more than 20 minutes. You could get frost bite!
Compression: Compression simply means to bandage the area tightly but not too tightly. This eases pain and helps to reduce swelling.
Elevation: Use whatever you can in your immediate environment to elevate your foot. For maximum effect you should raise it above heart level. In your own home you can achieve this by lying on the bed and raising the foot with pillows.
Arnica cream rubbed gently into the swollen area will help reduce bruising.

You should begin to notice an improvement in your condition in a day or two. However if pain and swelling have shown no sign of improvement after 24 to 48 hours you should consult your doctor. When the swelling has completely subsided and pain has eased after a few days gently stretch the foot and ankle. Do not force any movement of the joint. A little gentle massage will also be of benefit. Do not resume your regular walking routine until you are satisfied that there is no residual pain or bruising. When you do resume, build up to your previous time or distance level slowly.

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