Plenty of things can cause inflammation in the foot or
ankle. Acute inflammation is when the symptoms are caused by
something suddenly happening to a foot, such as an injury (like
spraining your ankle) or even sometimes an infection. Some people
also experience chronic inflammation, which means that there are
ongoing problems with the foot or ankle, like arthritis.
Although inflammation doesnt look pretty, and may be pretty
alarming, its actually a natural response of the body to an injury.
It happens because the body sends more blood to an injured area in
order to promote healing. However, more blood also means that the
body cant drain the area as effectively; the extra fluids can
build up and put pressure on the nerves, making them pretty painful.
Whatever the cause of the inflammation, its likely to be
rather uncomfortable, or even painful. The inflamed area often looks
red, is warm to the touch, and is swollen (puffy is also a good
termkind of like your foot or ankle is turning into a human-shaped
Your podiatrist is really the best person to determine the
cause of the inflammation, and then determine what treatments might
be best. However, there are a few things you can do to make yourself
more comfortable. Just remember RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and
Give it a Rest: dont try to walk around on your injured foot or
ankle, and try not to move it around too much.
Applying Ice reduces bloodflow to the area and should make the
swelling go down, which should also make the area less painful. Put
ice in a bag, and wrap it up in a thin towel, then put the entire
package onto the inflamed area for 20 minutes, then leave it off for
40 minutes. Keep repeating the procedure, but dont leave an icepack
on while youre asleep, and if your skin starts to look blue or
white, take the ice off right away and dont put it on again for at
least a few hours. Also, never put ice directly on your skinyoure
not trying to give yourself frostbite here, just reduce the
Compression also reduces bloodflow to the area and helps stabilize
the foot and ankle. Wrap a bandage firmly but not tightly around
your foot. Youll want the bandage to be a bit more snug around your
toes, but not as tight at the base of your leg. If your foot starts
to throb, your bandage is probably too tight; try loosening it a
When you Elevate the area, it lets all that extra fluid drain back
to the heart more easily, again reducing swelling in the area. To
elevate properly, youll want the inflamed area to be about level
with or slightly higher than your heart. If youre lying down, prop
your foot up on a couple of pillows; make sure your knee is slightly bent
while resting on the pillows don’t prop your foot up with your knee
straight and your leg fully extended. If youre in a sitting
position, keep your foot a little above your waist.
Remember, the RICE method is for reducing pain and swelling in the
area; the underlying cause of the inflammation might require a
visit to your foot doctor, who can suggest treatment methods for
the specific injury you may have experienced. Some injuries may be
quite serious and will require surgery. Be sure to talk to your
podiatrist about all treatment options.
Call 719-543-2476 today to schedule your appointment!