Home Remedies For Foot And Ankle Swelling

By Ashley Henshaw. May 7th 2016

Injuries to the foot and ankle area are very common. Whether you've been injured playing a sport or just in a simple accident like tripping over something, the swelling can be painful and uncomfortable. Foot and ankle injuries are subject to slow healing when not treated properly since some people continue to place pressure on the affected area while walking. It's important to take steps to reduce the use of your injured foot or ankle and eliminate swelling in order to get back on your feet, and feeling better as quickly as possible. By doing so, you'll also reduce your chances for long-term complications, which can arise when the area is not treated right away. Below, you'll find some handy tips for treating the swelling of your foot or ankle right in your own home.

The R.I.C.E. Method

One of the most common and simplest treatments for foot and ankle swelling, and other similar injuries like tennis elbow, is the R.I.C.E. method. The letters in R.I.C.E. stand for: rest, ice, compress and elevate. By following these steps, you can reduce both swelling and pain in the affected area. To complete this at-home treatment, do the following:

  • Rest the foot or ankle that has been affected. For most people, that means avoiding walking whenever possible, or at least placing as little pressure as possible on the area. It may be a nuisance to have to avoid walking during this process, but it will help your recovery move along much faster.
  • Ice your foot or ankle with a cold pack, some ice cubes in a baggie or a bag of frozen vegetables. These are all good options because they can be shaped to surround the affected area. Put ice on as soon as you can after the injury occurs. Leave the ice on for only about 10 to 15 minutes, then repeat the process every few hours thereafter. The ice will help reduce both pain and swelling.
  • Compress your injured foot or ankle for both stability and swelling reduction. Make sure that the wrap or bandage is snug on the injury without cutting off circulation or causing more pain.
  • Elevate your foot or ankle while doing all of the steps listed above. Ideally, you should lie on the ground, in bed or on the couch so that your injured foot can be elevated slightly above your heart to reduce swelling more effectively.

Utilizing Items In Your Home To Reduce Swelling

There are a number of items that you probably already have in your home that can help reduce the swelling in your foot or ankle. Some of these items include:

  • Crutches: If you happen to have crutches from a previous injury in your home, utilize these as you heal to keep pressure off of the affected area.
  • Vinegar: Some people soothe their injured foot or ankle with vinegar. Just mix equal parts vinegar and water, heat it in the microwave then soak a towel in it. Wrap it around the affected area and let it sit for five minutes.
  • Cucumber: Cucumbers can help absorb excess fluids and reduce swelling. Simply slice up a cucumber and place the slices on the affected area. Hold the slices in place with a bandage.
  • Vitamin E: Eat foods that have lots of vitamin E to help your swelling go down faster. Great foods for this method are spinach, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds and almond oil.
  • Water: Drink lots of water to help reduce the swelling in your foot or ankle.
  • Salt: You actually want to avoid salt when you have a swollen foot or ankle. Keep to a low-salt diet while you recovery as salt can increase fluid retention, which worsens swelling.

Over-the-Counter Treatments

There are several over-the-counter (OTC) drugs you can choose to utilize when your foot or ankle is swollen. Each of the recommended items is an OTC drug most people already have in their homes. If you do not have these products in your home already, consider picking them up in case an injury should occur in the future. Be sure you follow the packaging instructions and take the correct dosages for each of these products:

  • Ibuprofen: This is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Common brand names for ibufprofen include Motrin and Advil.
  • Aspirin: Another NSAID, aspirin also helps get rid of swelling and ease pain associated with an injury. A common brand name for aspirin is Bayer.
  • Acetaminophen: This drug is more commonly known by its most popular name brand, Tylenol. Acetaminophen can be utilized for pain associated with your injury. It does not reduce swelling, but it may help provide some comfort directly after the injury occurs and during the recovery process.

When To See A Doctor

Unless the swelling results from a broken bone or snapped tendon, you may not need to see a doctor immediately after your injury. If you are still experiencing severe pain or swelling, or are unable to put any weight on the affected area whatsoever after three days of using these at-home treatments, consult your physician immediately. If you have redness and warmth in the affected area, or develop a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more, see a doctor right away as this could be a sign of infection.

How To Prevent Future Injuries

Follow these steps to prevent future injuries to your feet or ankles:

  • Always warm up your muscles and stretch before exercising or playing sports.
  • Wear practical shoes and be cautious when walking on unstable surfaces.
  • Exercise the muscles in your lower legs and ankles to strengthen them.
  • Do balancing exercises to improve your stability.
  • Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes.

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