Nobody ever asks for a sports injury. You could have taken every preventative measure in the book, only for an injury to still occur. That’s simply the nature of things sometimes.
But what should you do now that your foot or ankle is throbbing? What’s the best approach to take when treating a foot or ankle sports injury?
Just like the steps you take to reduce your injury risks, how you respond in treating an injury that does occur can significantly reduce your risks of further damage or complications and can accelerate your recovery.
Again, there are no absolute guarantees here. Some injuries may be too unique or severe to fully benefit from certain initial treatments. But with that said, the following advice will be effective in many cases, and can often help keep things from becoming worse.
Stop Your Activity
The first step you should take whenever you feel pain (or something just not being right) is to stop. Don’t try to ignore the problem or just “walk it off.”
At the very least, take a few minutes to evaluate your condition. If your foot or ankle hurts to put weight on, you’re done for today. Keep weight off the area as much as possible and move to first aid. But also be on the lookout for other signs of trouble:
- Weakness or instability
- Reduction in mobility
Continuing to play with an injury, without properly addressing it, will greatly increase your risk of further injury and complications that extend your recovery time. Usually, the best way to get back to action sooner is to stop the action now.
Start RICE Therapy
RICE therapy is a recommended first aid protocol to follow within the first 48 hours after a sports injury. If you do not believe your injury warrants immediate or prompt medical attention (and if you aren’t sure, never hesitate to contact us!), RICE is a sound next step.
RICE stands for the following:
- REST. Continue to keep weight off the affected foot or ankle as much as possible.
- ICE. Apply a cold pack to the area for 12-15 minutes, several times per day. Always ensure you wrap any source of cold in a thin layer before use. Do not apply it directly to your foot, as it can cause damage to the skin. Also, do not leave ice on for extended periods of time.
- COMPRESSION. Wrap the area with an elastic bandage, such as an Ace bandage. Do not wrap too tightly, as this can cause swelling beneath the bandage. If you feel numbness, tingling, swelling, or increased pain in the area, gently loosen the bandage. And if you aren’t confident in your wrapping abilities, ask for help or feel free to skip this step.
- ELEVATION. Keep the affected leg above the level of your heart whenever you are sitting or lying down. This can mean propping your foot up on a coffee table or a pile of pillows in bed. Just be careful not to hit your leg against anything solid!
The purpose of RICE therapy as a whole is to help reduce initial pain and swelling. Do not continue it after 48 hours (unless you are professionally instructed to) or if your symptoms become worse during that period.
Seek Expert Sports Injury Treatment if Symptoms Don’t Improve
If you are still feeling significant pain, instability, or lack of mobility after a day or two, it’s time to give us a call. And as we noted earlier, you do not have to wait until this much time passes if you have any immediate questions or concerns about your injury whatsoever. We’re here to help you!
We have experts with many years of experience in not only treating sports injuries, but in helping patients get back to the activities they love quickly and safely. Once we have made a complete examination and learned all we can about your situation, we can recommend the best route of sports injury treatment for your needs.
For some, this may involve some simple reductions in activity and changes to routines, allowing optimal natural recovery. We do not want to keep patients still any longer than we need to, and incorporating the right kinds of movement at the right times can help accelerate recovery and rehabilitation.
For other cases, we may recommend incorporating an advanced form of treatment to aid in recovery. Laser therapy can naturally accelerate the body’s healing responses, as well as relieve pain and swelling. Custom orthotics can also help shift excess weight away from an injured area, not only potentially helping with recovery of a current injury, but prevention of a recurrence as well.
We may recommend other forms of treatment based on a patient’s specific situation and needs. We will always pursue conservative means of treatment whenever viable. Surgery is only ever a consideration if other forms of sports injury treatment either are not effective, or clearly wouldn’t be from the start.
The Best Sports Injury Treatment Happens Right Away
If there is one thing to take away from our brief discussion on sports injury treatment, it’s that recognizing and acting properly on a sports injury is one of the best first steps of treatment. Don’t try to walk it off. Don’t try to ignore things and hope they just get better on their own. Taking reasonable steps as soon as an injury happens can greatly help you get back to action faster – and we all want that.