Cold Packs or Hot Packs for Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprain is a common injury that results from stretching or tearing a ligament that supports the ankle joint. A ligament is a tough fibrous band connecting bones in a joint.

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), ankle sprain occur in about 25 million individuals in the United States each day.

An ankle sprain can occur because of faulty maneuver wherein the foot is turned inward as a person runs, turns, falls, or lands on the ankle after a jump.

Symptoms of ankle sprain depend on the severity of injury. Common symptoms of an ankle sprain include pain, swelling, bruising, instability, and loss of the ability to move and use the joint.

For mild ankle sprain, application of ice pack is advised. This helps to relieve pain and swelling in the involved joint. Resting and elevating the limb above the heart may help control swelling as well.

To apply the ice pack, wrap it in layers of towel before putting it over the swollen ankle. Leave it there for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Make sure that it is not too cold or don’t leave it there for more than 20 minutes as this can cause frostbites or cold injuries. Never attempt to apply hot packs for ankle sprains that recently occurred because this can further cause swelling.

Taking over-the-counter medications may also help relieve pain.

After swelling has subsided, hot pack application can be used. Wrap hot pack with towel and apply over the injured area for 20 minutes. If it feels too hot, add more layers of towel. It should be warm and comfortable. Heat increases circulation to the area, which helps in repair of damaged tissues.

Precaution should be observed when applying hot or cold packs for ankle injuries if you have other health conditions such as nerve problems or difficulty of sensing heat or cold. A health care provider should be consulted first.

For more severe cases of ankle sprain, immediate medical attention should be sought. if you are unsure what ankle sprain treatment to apply, don't hesitate to ask your healthcare provider.

You can learn more about ankle sprain first aid at (External link)

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NasugnaM Health has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NasugnaM Health.