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First you need to determine if it is a strain or a sprain. A strain is a pulled muscle. A sprain involves stretched or torn ligaments around a joint. Both cause pain and swelling and bleeding under the skin.

First Aid: Rest the ankle, apply ice, compression and elevation. The acronym RICE will spell out those four elements for you. Rest allows the tissue to heal. Ice numbs the pain and minimizes swelling. Apply an ice pack for 20 minute every few hours for the first two days.

Wearing a compression bandage for at least two days to control the bleeding and swelling. Keep the injured area elevated above the heart level for as long as possible and that will reduce internal bleeding.

How to bandage a sprain.

1. Wrap a sprained ankles with a compression bandage in a figure 8 pattern. Make two loops around the instep, then stretch bandage diagonally across the foot.

2. Bring the bandage around the ankle to the front of the foot. Then wrap it diagonally across the foot.

3. Continue wrapping the bandage in figure 8 turns. Each turn should overlap the prefious turn by about three fourths of the bandage’s width.

4. When the foot and ankle are wrapped, secure the bandage with a pin. Leave toes bare. If they become numb or discolored, the bandage is too tight.

If you continue to have problems with the ankle after resting it, icing it, bandaging it and elevating it, you may have a bigger problem than just a sprain. You may need to go to the doctor and see if there is further damage. But for the most part, these steps will help you heal a sprained ankle quickly and safely.