Jun 14

A Primer on RICE for an Ankle Sprain

RICE for an Ankle Sprain

Common Foot Problems

Request A Consultation

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Ankle sprains are one of the most common sports injuries. Indeed, a person doesn’t even have to play sports to sprain their ankle. Ankle sprains come from falls, from dropping something heavy on the ankle or even from stepping the wrong way. According to podiatrist, Dr. Pedram Aslmand of Advanced Foot & Ankle Center, if a person feels that they’ve sprained their ankle, they should perform RICE for an ankle sprain then call the doctor.

First, What’s a Sprained Ankle?

A sprained ankle results when the ligaments, which are bands that connect the several bones of the ankle to each other, are twisted, stretched or ruptured. If a person has an injury severe enough to rupture a ligament, the bones of the ankle may be fractured as well.

How Does a Person Know They Have a Sprained Ankle?

A person should suspect that they have a sprained ankle if the ankle is painful, swollen and stiff. The ankle may no longer be able to bear their weight, and they may notice a bruise that gradually moves down the foot to their toes. To make sure it is an ankle sprain, the doctor will examine it and may call for an X-ray to make sure that no bones have been broken.

The RICE Procedure

Even before a person sees a doctor, they should perform RICE for an ankle sprain. Even if there is no sprain, the procedure can’t hurt and soothes the ankle even if it’s only been dinged. RICE is an acronym for:


Rest simply means the person should take weight off the ankle, and put it in a more comfortable position where it can be protected from further injury.


Though ice should never be placed directly on the site of an injury, a cold pack is good to reduce swelling and pain. Even then, a towel should be placed on the ankle before the cold pack is applied. The rule of thumb is to apply the pack between 10 and 30 minutes every two hours for the first three days after the injury. After two or three days, a warm compress can be applied to the area after the swelling has gone down.


To compress means to wrap the ankle with an elastic dressing. An Ace bandage is a good choice for this. This reduces the swelling, but the bandage shouldn’t be put on so tightly that it can interfere with circulation and cause the ankle to swell even further. A patient can tell if the bandage is too tight if it causes more pain and brings tingling, numbness or more swelling. The skin will also feel cool.

Some people will wrap dressings around the cold compress itself. The recommendation is to wrap a gauze or crepe bandage from the joint below the injury to the joint above it. With a sprained ankle, this means the dressing will extend to just above the toes to the knee.


The patient should prop their ankle on a pillow while they’re icing it or just resting. Ideally, the ankle should be elevated above the level of the heart.

A person who believes they have a sprained ankle should do the RICE procedure, then get in touch with Dr. Aslmand at Advanced Foot & Ankle Center. The number is (562) 933-3136.