Minor leg, ankle, and foot injuries often result in uncomfortable swelling that can be effectively treated at home using this simple method.
Leg and foot injuries often result in swelling that can be painful and debilitating. Swelling from injuries is usually caused by a build up of body fluids that cause the injured area to appear puffy and misshapen. The best way to reduce the swelling and discomfort of minor leg and foot injuries is “R.I.C.E.”: rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
Rest is important because it will help reduce swelling and will prevent further injury to the area. Furthermore, your body needs rest so that it has enough energy and time to heal injured areas. Avoid any kind of strenuous activities for one to two days after the injury, especially any type of activity that would involve using the injured area.
Ice can be applied to reduce swelling, and there are many options for this type of treatment. One option is to fill a sealable plastic bag with ice, and lay it gently over the injured area. A great substitute for ice is an instant cold pack, which can be purchased in the First Aid aisle at most retail stores. These disposable packs are usually remain colder longer than a bag of ice and are more comfortable to use.
Another alternative to ice is to use a bag of small frozen vegetables such as corn or peas. This option works particularly well because the bag can easily be shaped to different areas of the body to provide the most surface contact with the swelling. It’s also easy to freeze and reuse these bags; however, keep in mind that it is not safe to eat foods that have been thawed and refrozen.
Regardless of which method of applying ice is used, it’s a good idea to place a thin towel between the ice and the injured area for comfort and safety. Ice or cold packs should never be left on for more than 15 minutes as they may damage the skin. Ideally, they should be left on for 15 minutes, and then taken off for at least 20 minutes before reapplying.
Compression can also be applied to injuries to reduce swelling and pain. Elastic wraps such as ACE bandages are typically used to provide compression to injured areas. Bandages should be wrapped tightly, but not so tight as to cause throbbing or discomfort in the area. Unlike ice, compression bandages should be worn for extended periods of time in order to effectively reduce swelling. Some people find that wearing these bandages is uncomfortable, so it is acceptable to remove the wrap for short periods of time. Removing the bandage for any length of time may cause the swelling to return, so it is best to wear the wrap as much as possible.
Elevation is the final component to caring for a swollen leg injury. Elevation will reduce swelling by draining the injury of fluid build-up and making it harder for new fluid to accumulate. For best results, elevate the injured area until it is just above chest level. If this is not comfortable, another option would be to rest in a sitting position and use one or two pillows to elevate the injured area.
R.I.C.E. can be a great way to relieve the swelling associated with minor sprains and strains, but it is no substitute for professional medical treatment. It is important to see a physician if the swelling remains unchanged or becomes worse after 48 hours. Seek immediate medical attention if there is severe bruising, skin discoloration, numbness, tingling, or decreased strength or movement of the injured area. These symptoms could be due to a more serious injury that requires medical treatment.
The information contained in or made available through This Site cannot replace or substitute for the services of trained professionals in the medical field. We do not recommend any treatment, drug, food or supplement. You should regularly consult a doctor in all matters relating to physical or mental health, particularly concerning any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.