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How often should I ice my sprained ankle?

This is a very important question. Since you want your sprained ankle to heal as quickly as possible, you might be tempted to leave ice on your ankle for hours at a time. But while icing an ankle can greatly reduce the swelling, it can also cause nerve damage if the ice pack is left on too long. 

Here are some guidelines for the most effective way to use ice in easing the pain of a sprained ankle:

  • How long? Ice should only be left on your injured ankle for up to 20 minutes at a time. As a general rule, you should remove the ice when your skin feels numb.
  • How often? You should use ice treatments every 2 to 4 hours in the first 3 days after your injury. 
  • Should I wrap my ankle with ice? Yes. The ice pack method is the best way to do this. Fill a plastic bag halfway with crushed ice, and wrap a thin cloth around your injured ankle. Place the ice pack over the ankle and wrap a bandage around it to keep it in place.
  • What’s a slush bath? A slush bath might work best for severe sprains or extreme swelling. Fill a large bucket with water and crushed ice, and place your ankle in the bucket until it is numb. 
  • What else? If you have a small, localized sprain, you may consider an ice massages. Wrap an ice cube in a tea towel with one end exposed. Rub the uncovered end of the ice cube slowly over the sprained area using a circular motion. Don’t hold the ice on any one spot for longer than 30 seconds.

For a personalized diagnosis and treatment plan, contact the trusted podiatrists at Healthmark Foot and Ankle Associates today at 610-565-3668 in Media or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville.