Whether it occurs after a slip and fall on the ice or while playing sports, ankle injuries can have a huge effect on our day-to-day. Pain and swelling of the ankle can make running, walking, and going up or down stairs incredibly difficult. Below are some tips and tricks to help make sure you’re letting your ankle heal (heel haha) on the right track!

Should you do an x-ray?

First step after an ankle injury is to make sure there isn’t something more serious going on such as a fracture. Before this is ruled out, avoid putting weight on that leg as much as possible to avoid aggravating the ankle. Not every ankle injury needs an x-ray or further imaging but if you are unable to take a few steps on the injured leg immediately after the injury as well as pain in the following areas (see image below), you should seek medical attention. When in doubt, you may always contact a healthcare professional for their opinion.

Swelling and pain

In the first stages of healing, you’ll surely notice that your ankle is tender and will start to swell and there could also be some bruising that appears. The amount of swelling can be an indication of the severity of the sprain. T

To help decrease the swelling, keep the foot elevated for 10 to 20 minutes at a time at regular intervals throughout the day to use gravity to encourage the extra fluids to move to the rest of the body instead of pooling at the foot. 

Compression socks or bandages can be worn, making sure that they are not tight enough to form a tourniquet that blocks circulation to the foot. 

Ice can help numb the pain and can be used with an ice pack or frozen bag of peas from the freezer wrapped in a wet towel and applied to the ankle for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Pain medication and anti-inflammatories can be taken as recommended by your pharmacist. 

Avoid re-creating the movement that caused the injury in the first place, most commonly the toes pointing inwards which stretches the structures on the outside of the ankle, to allow those overstretched ligaments to heal. Continue gently moving the ankle in all directions to avoid stiffness and  walking as tolerated while avoiding limping as much as possible, use crutches or a cane as needed.

What to do next? Read the next article right here: What to do to help heal your ankle?