Ankle injuries can be serious, and you must take precautions to prevent further damage while you transport the victim to the emergency room or doctor's office. Here is how to provide first aid to someone who injures their ankle.

Prepare for Swelling

An ankle injury can rapidly produce swelling in the toes, foot, and lower leg. You want to remove any toe rings or bracelets around the ankle to allow for the swelling to happen without interrupting the blood flow to any part of the ankle and foot.

You should also put ice in a towel or a piece of clothing, and wrap it around the ankle to control the swelling. Do not allow the ice to come directly in contact with the skin as this can cause freezer burn and damage the exposed skin.

Stabilize Ankle

You want to keep the ankle from moving around to prevent any more damage from happening. The ankle could be broken, or it could be severely sprained. In both cases, if the ankle moves around it could cause further damage when the broken bones scrape against the tissues and nerves in the ankle, or the ligaments and tendons could snap if they have gotten torn when the injury occurred.

The way to avoid further damage is to brace the ankle to prevent the victim from being able to move the ankle. Here is how to brace an ankle when you don't have first aid equipment available on site:

  • Find two sticks of even length and size.
  • Wrap a soft material, like a t-shirt, around the part of the leg and foot that you'll be bracing to prevent the sticks from rubbing into the skin and causing further damage and discomfort to the victim.
  • Place the sticks on a diagonal angle across the lower leg and halfway across the foot.
  • Tie the sticks together with rope, plastic bags, or anything else you can use to tie the sticks around the leg and foot.
  • Check for a pulse in the foot. Put your index finger between the big toe and the second toe to feel for a pulse. If you don't find one, the injury or the way you put on the brace could have interfered with the blood flow to the foot. Loosen the brace and gently adjust the ankle position to restore blood flow, and then retighten the brace (if minor adjustments don't restore blood flow, get the victim to the nearest emergency room as quickly as possible to prevent long-term damage to the foot and ankle).

Transport the victim to the hospital or doctor's office for x-rays and further treatment. Contact a center like Advanced Foot & Ankle Center of Palatine for more help.