There are several methods with which to remember how to treat a sprained ankle at home, one of which is called the PRINCE approach. This is one of the most inclusive ones, so we’ll go over what PRINCE stands for and how to incorporate each step. Performing these steps when you first sprain your ankle can help the healing process start faster and often helps a sprain heal better than if nothing is done.
The first step is to protect your joint from further injury. This can be accomplished by strapping your ankle and foot, using bandages to limit motion, or using an ankle brace with an air cushion already incorporated.
This step is to help protect your ankle from getting worse by limiting movement. Just after you sprain your ankle is when it’s most susceptible to further injury, so immobilizing your ankle for a while so it can begin to heal is an important step toward recovery.
The second step is to rest your ankle. If it’s painful to put weight on it, then don’t. You may need to use crutches if walking is absolutely necessary, but it’s best to stay off of your injured ankle for a while until the pain subsides a bit. If you can, stay off of your feet for a few days at least.
When you first sprain your ankle, it’s important to ice the injury for the first 48-72 hours. Use crushed ice in plastic bags, ice packs, or chemical cool packs wrapped in a rag or towel to ice your injured joint. Apply ice for about 20 minutes every two hours to relieve swelling and pain.
Take acetaminophen or NSAIDs. NSAIDs include ibuprofen and naproxen. This will help alleviate the pain as well as lessen the swelling. You can find NSAIDs at your local grocery store or pharmacy and buy them over-the-counter. Remember to follow the directions on the label to avoid overdose or complications from taking too much medicine.
Wrap your ankle injury and apply compression. The bandage should be wrapped tightly enough to provide support but not so tightly that it causes numbness or swelling. If your foot starts to tingle, swell, or go numb, it’s probably too tight!
Wrapping your ankle not only provides support, but it also serves as a reminder not to use that ankle and to be careful if you have to be on your feet.
To elevate your ankle, rest it on a surface above your heart for 2-3 hours a day for the first 72 hours. This will help take the swelling down and help your ankle feel better. Once the swelling goes down, you can begin to start putting a little weight on it again. Be careful not to put too much weight on it, though.
If your ankle hasn’t shown signs of improvement after 72 hours of applying the PRINCE method, you should call your doctor as soon as possible and seek medical attention. Here at Milwaukee Foot & Ankle Specialists, we offer same day appointments for your convenience. Your feet are important to us, so give us a call at 414-439-2279 today.