Strains and sprains? Self-care and if in doubt, call NHS 111.


NHS Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is sharing some self-care techniques so that if you do strain or sprain your ankle, you will know what to do.

Most strains and sprains can be treated at home with ‘self-care’ and if you’re not sure, NHS 111 is available to advise 24 hours and day, seven days a week.

Dr Nicola Smith, Chair at NHS Milton Keynes CCG, said: “Most sprains and strains are relatively minor and can be treated at home with self-care techniques, such as PRICE therapy.

Protection – protect your ankle from further injury by wearing shoes that enclose and support your feet, for example lace-up shoes. This means putting away those heels until your ankle is better!

Rest – Rest your ankle and avoid activity for the first 48 to 72 hours after injuring yourself.

Ice – for the first 48 to 72 hours after your injury, apply ice wrapped in a damp towel to the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours during the day. Do not leave the ice on while you are asleep, and do not allow the ice to touch your skin directly, because it could cause a cold burn.

Compression – compress or bandage your ankle to limit any swelling and movement that could damage it further. You can use a simple elastic bandage or elasticated tubular bandage available from your local pharmacy. It should be wrapped snuggly around the affected area, but not so tightly that it restricts blood flow. Remove the bandage before you go to sleep.

Elevation – keep your ankle raised and supported on a pillow to help reduce swelling.

Dr Smith added: “Painkillers such as paracetamol can be used to help ease any pain, although stronger medication can be prescribed if the pain is more severe. Most people will regain full use of their ankle within six to eight weeks, although severe injuries can take longer to heal.”

If symptoms have not started to improve within a few days of self-treatment call NHS111, which can offer advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All you need to do is dial 111 to talk to the NHS.

For more serious injuries or if a fracture is suspected people should go to their local Accident & Emergency Department.

For more information about treating sprains and strains, visit