First Aid for Foot and Ankle Injuries: The RICE Method

Your feet are strong and reliable, but that doesn’t mean they won’t ever break down occasionally. Sprains are especially common, particularly among runners and athletes—perhaps a million or more occur every year in the United States alone.

The last thing any active individual wants to hear is that they need to take time off to deal with an injury, so many choose to ignore the pain and press on through. Unfortunately, this often only creates more serious problems. Instead, those who have sustained a sports injury to their feet or ankles should call our office for an evaluation to determine the extent of the injury, and in the meantime, observe the RICE method for soft tissue injury first aid. Doing so can help you keep swelling and pain to a minimum in the first few days and promote healing to get you back in the game.

RICE stands for:

Rest. If you’ve just sprained your ankle, don’t try to keep walking or running on it! Discontinue weight bearing activity immediately. You may be tempted to press on and finish your run or game, but that can lead to more damage.

Ice. Carefully controlled application of ice can help with pain and swelling. Never place a frozen surface directly on skin (as it can cause blistering or ice burn), but wrap in a towel, and never apply for more than 15 minutes per hour as needed.

Compression. Applying firm (but not too tight) pressure limits the blood flow to the injury to control swelling. Elastic bandages work well for this.

Elevation. Blood pressure and height are inversely related. Elevating your foot above heart level as much as possible over the first few days as you sit or lie helps control swelling and promote faster healing.

While RICE is an appropriate immediate first-aid response to most foot and ankle injuries, it’s still important that you visit a foot specialist like Dr. Keith McSpadden soon after your injury for a full evaluation. Full treatment and rehabilitation may require a little more time and work. We know you don’t want to be off your feet, but early intervention with RICE and a professional check-up is crucial not only to helping you feel better, but preventing injuries from becoming chronic. If you’ve sustained an injury to your feet or ankles, give North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute a call today at 512-593-2949.

Posted on December 30, 2015 and filed under Sports Injury.