Ankle sprains are among the most common joint injuries, and nearly everyone suffers at least a minor ankle strain or sprain at some point in their life. Consequently, knowing how to treat a sprained ankle is smart – whether you’re treating yourself, a family member, or anyone in your care.
The tried and true formula for treating a sprained ankle has a handy acronym – RICE – making it easy to remember. The RICE formula stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation, and each element contributes to lessening the discomfort associated with a sprain.
Rest is necessary to avoid aggravating the injured joint. Ice can help reduce pain and swelling. Compression helps stabilize the joint, contains swelling, and provides some protection during the first 24–48 hours after injury. Elevation also helps with pain and swelling; keeping your foot propped up on a chair or stool during the day can help your ankle feel better.
Certain elements of RICE come into play at night too, particularly rest and elevation. Resting is helpful for healing overall and staying off your feet for several hours at night is ideal to aid recovery. Keeping a pillow or cushion under your foot allows you to elevate the injured joint above your heart - another way to help you heal.
Now, to answer the question about wrapping a sprained ankle overnight, there are a few different schools of thought. Braces and supports intended for sprains are used primarily for daytime joint support and protection. However, if you are experiencing a great deal of pain, and get some relief from keeping your ankle wrapped at night, an elastic bandage should help. Some sources say it’s OK to stay wrapped at night, but be sure that the bandage is very loose.
If your ankle doesn’t feel better after a few days of home care, see your doctor for professional help and to ensure you’re not dealing with a more serious injury like a tear or fracture.
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