11 January 2009 19:12
If I were to sprain an ankle, what is the best thing to put on it, heat pad or ice?
By Country Walking magazine
Twisting or spraining an ankle is a risk on rough terrain, and first aid falls into two stages – getting home safely and treating the injury.
The first thing is to sit down and check it out. If it’s a mild sprain, keep your boot on for support. If it’s bad (extensive swelling), strap it up – compression bandages work well, but check toe-colour to make sure circulation isn’t compromised. If you can put weight on the ankle without sharp pain, then walk with the aid of other people – but try to avoid painkillers at this stage as you can do further damage without realising. If it’s excruciating, it’s best if you can be carried down.
Made it home? It’s all about RICE for the next 48-72 hours:
Rest – avoid activity, use crutches if necessary.
Ice – apply ice (wrapped in a damp towel to prevent cold burn) for 20 minutes every hour. Avoid heat – no hot baths or heat packs.
Compress – limit swelling by using a compression bandage. It should be snug, but not tight and you should remove before bed.
Elevate – keep the injured area elevated (above the level of your heart) as much as possible to reduce swelling.
If symptoms persist for longer than 72 hours, consult your GP.