Your feet and ankles take a lot of abuse, and most days perform admirably. They’re designed that way, after all—to allow you to stand, walk, run, jump, dance, and play your whole life long. Still, breakdowns happen: an awkward tumble that leads to a sprain, repetitive stresses that cause tendons to strain and tear, and so on.
While any foot and ankle injury should be assessed by a trained podiatrist soon after they occur, problems that do not require emergency care can be addressed in the immediate hours and days by observing RICE therapy. This time-honored first aid protocol is designed to prevent further damage, minimize pain and swelling, and enabling healing. The components of RICE are:
- Rest. Don’t keep walking on a foot that’s hurting. Offload the pressure to protect any damaged tissues or bones from further damage.
- Ice. Application of ice packs or other cold sources can work wonders on pain and swelling. Just remember to do it safely: wrap the ice in a towel so your skin isn’t directly exposed, never ice for more than 15-20 minutes at a time, and wait at least 45 minutes before icing again.
- Compression. Using an elastic bandage around the injury site helps with pain and swelling, may provide extra support for weakened muscles, and helps keep your circulation running efficiently. Just make sure it’s not too tight—there should be no numbness, tingling, or cooling sensations, and there should be no swelling in the area below the bandage either.
- Elevation. One of your strongest allies in the fight against swelling is gravity. As often as possible, keep your injured leg propped up or elevated, at least parallel with the ground and ideally above heart level. This will help your circulatory system do its job at get blood back to the heart.
Follow these guidelines, and it’ll help you keep swelling and discomfort from an injury as under control as possible during the first few days. Additionally, you’ll want to give Massapequa Podiatry Associates a call as well to address ongoing pain or other concerns. While RICE is a great first aid and home management tool, it’s no substitute for the techniques, technologies, and training a podiatrist can use to fully diagnose an issue and chart the best possible course toward recovery. To set an appointment with Dr. Fox, please use our online contact form or call us at 877-674-7422.