15th April 2019 Friday Resus Ready First Aid Trivia
How to treat a sprained ankle
You are out for your morning jog and accidently roll your ankle while running on some uneven pavement. Thankfully you are not far from your house and manage to hobble home. You remember the first aid for a sprained ankle is RICE
You REST your foot by sitting on the couch, put ICE wrapped in a tea towl on it, wrap your ankle with a COMPRESSION banadage and then…
Option 1: ELEVATE the foot by placing it on a chair in front of you while you sit on the couch
Option 2: ELEVATE the foot by lying down with your foot resting on a stack of pillows
Results from the facebook poll are:
- Option 1 – Seated foot on chair 16% 16%
- Option 2 – Lying foot on pillows 84% 84%
If you answered Option 2 – ELEVATE the foot by lying down with your foot resting on a stack of pillows then you would be correct.
Ankle sprains are a common injury in both adults and children. The ankle is made up of bones and ligments (which are stretchy connective tissue which hold the bones in place). Sometimes with a sudden movement or a twist these ligaments can become overstretched and cause the stretchy connective tissue to be torn and bleeding to occur. This can show up as swelling and bruising.
Sprains should be treated as soon as possible and gentle excersie promoted when pain levels have decreased. The first aid treament of sprains has not changed in a long time. Using the RICE (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) method can reduce swelling, ease pain and speed up the healing process to get you back on your feet quicker.
How to RICE:
REST – is all about protection and preventing further damage. Avoid weight baring (putting pressure) on the injured foot. Our body is great at telling us when something is wrong, if you are feeling pain, it is there for a reason and its your body’s way of saying stop.
ICE – reduces swelling by constricting blood vessels and reduces pain by numbing pain receptors. Ice should never be placed directly on the skin and always requires at least one layer of material between the ice and the skin to avoid ice burn. The ice pack should be place on the affected area for 20 mins and then taken off for 2 hours, rinse and repeat for the first 24 -48 hours (except when sleeping).
COMPRESSION – reduces swelling. An elastic compression bandage should be used and wrapped firmly but not too tightly over the affected ankle. When wrapping a compression bandage always start furthest away at from the body, so in this case the foot, and avoid covering the toes. Wrap the bandage up the leg towards the body, this prevents excess pooling of blood in the toes causeing pain and pressure.
The bandage should not cut off the blood flow and the best way to assess this is to place a small amount of pressure by pinching one of the tips of the toes over the nail bed and skin, hold for a couple of seconds and then release, the nail bed will start white and then as blood flow returns back to the toe it will start to turn pink again (you can test this now on one of your fingers, pinch the tip of your finger and watch as the blood refills and the skin returns to its pink colour). This should only take 1-3 seconds, any longer and the bandage is on too tight and should be rewrapped slightly looser. Other signs is that blood flow is cut off is tingling or numbness in the foot or the foot becomes cold and pale or blue. Blood flow should be assessed regularly in the initial hours as the swelling can increase causing issues.
And finally, we come to our trivia answer for the week…
ELEVATION – raising the ankle will help to reduce swelling and bruising. The affected ankle should be raised above the level of the heart whenever possible in the first 24 hours. HOW we raise the ankle is important. Placing your foot on a chair out infront of you while you remain in a seated position is better than nothing but doesn’t effectively elevate the foot as it remains at a level below your heart which can lead to more blood flow to the area leading to more internal bleeding causing bruising and pain from increased pressure. As stated before, ELEVATION of the affected ankle should be above the level of the heart. Lying down and placing your foot on a stack of pillows ensures the ankle is raised above the heart, this assists with blood flow out of the leg reducing swelling.
Non weight baring excerisies should be encouraged as soon as the pain has reduced to avoid stiffness in the joint.
One of my personal favourite excercises is Alpha-foot (yes i made up the name but it makes sense): In a seated position, stretch out the affected foot and attempt to draw the alphabet one letter at a time in the air with your big toe. Stop if there is any pain and rest the foot as needed. When you can complete the full alphabet with little to no pain you and it has been at least 48 hours you can try putting some gentle pressure on the foot to test. Remember PAIN = REST so take it easy.
You should seek medical assistance if the pain after the injury is unbareable or if it has been over 48 hours and the pain is still just as bad or worse as this could indicate that the injury may not be a simple sprain.
Did you like learning about sprains? Would you like to know more first aid skills? Why not attend one of my upcoming public courses or get some friends and family together for an in-home first aid training session.
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