Inflammation means your body is protecting you
Inflammation is a normal response when you have a sprain. It’s how your body reacts to the injury. When you sprain an ankle the soft tissues in your body are damaged. This causes these tissues to release chemicals that act as an alarm signal to begin the healing process. Consequently, more blood flow is released to the injury which brings platelets (to stop any bleeding) and white blood cells with it. This is actually a good sign. They help the body to repair the damage. It also explains why your sprained ankle may be swollen.
Why are sprains so painful?
When you sprain an ankle, your body’s alarm system releases chemicals called prostaglandins from the damaged tissue. The release of these chemicals is important for causing inflammation which protects the area of the injury. However, it also makes nerves sensitive to pain. This pain can be alleviated by pain relief options while the injury heals.
Managing inflammation while you have it
To help relieve an injury means you have to try and reduce the inflammation which is the source of pain. For sprained ankles or muscle strains there is the RICE method. It simply stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
The body needs time to repair, so try to avoid putting any extra weight on it than necessary. Without rest, you place continual strain on the injury which can lead to further inflammation.
Ice is a great way to reduce inflammation and can reduce bleeding and swelling. Applying ice to the injury for 10 minutes every 1-2 hours, continuing for up to 48 hours, can relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
Applying a bandage to the area also helps prevent swelling and provides support for the injury.
By keeping the injury raised, swelling can also be reduced. It helps blood and fluid drain away from the injury. This approach works best by raising the limb to slightly above the level of your heart where practical.
Anti-inflammatory medicines help to ease pain
Ibuprofen (the active ingredient in Nurofen) reduces the production of prostaglandins to reduce inflammation and help with pain. After a couple of days most strains and sprains begin to heal. If symptoms get worse in the first 24 hours, or you are concerned about your sprain for any reason, see your doctor for advice.
Other pain that’s associated with inflammation
Inflammation isn’t just confined to a sprained ankle. It can also be the cause of pain in other conditions including toothaches, cold & flu and sinusitis.
Inflammation is a double-edged sword
Inflammation is both good and bad. While it’s part of the healing process of a sprain or strain, it’s also responsible for the pain. By now you should have an understanding of how the inflammation process works. This should help you to relieve the pain associated with it and reduce inflammation while the injury heals.