R.I.C.E. Protocol for the ankle and foot

By Matt Paulus, MS, ATC


What do I do for a swollen foot and an ankle sprain?

The foot and ankle work together to provide support and mobility to the rest of the body. So what happens when you sprain your foot or ankle?
Foot and ankle sprains occur when the ligaments that connect bone to bone are pulled, stretched, or torn. This often happens during sports or recreational activity and tripping or stumbling on uneven ground.
Symptoms of a sprained foot or ankle include pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty walking.  It is normal to get bruising of red and purple colors in the foot, ankle and toes from swelling.  You should use the acronym RICE in self-care of your sprained foot or ankle:

Rest – rest or immobilize the affected area, and stay off of it until is can be evaluated so as not to make the injury worse.

Cute Dog for RICE Protocol for Ankle Spains

Rest for the RICE Protocol

Ice – Ice the foot or ankle as soon as possible for 15-20 minutes, and reapply ice every 3-4 hours for the first 48 hours of injury.

Ice bag for the Rice Protocol for ankle sprains

Ice Bag for the Rice Protocol

Compression – Wrap an elastic bandage (Ace wrap) around the affected foot or ankle or compression socks will work too!  This should be snug, but not tight enough to cut off circulation.  You can check the color of your toes for proper circulation.

Compression Socks for the RICE Protocol for ankle sprains

Compression Socks for the RICE Protocol

Elevation – Elevate the foot and ankle with a couple of pillows. Ideally the area should be higher than your heart.  So, for a sprained ankle, the ankle must be elevated above the level of your heart if you are lying down.  Elevation after an injury is very important to keep the swelling under control.

Elevation of your feet for the an ankle sprain

Proper Elevation of your feet above your heart for the foot and ankle


RICE Protocol | JOI

RICE Protocol

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