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What Is Acute Inflammation? Treatment And never leave an ice pack on your

I nflammation is the body’s normal

protective response to an injury,
irritation, or surgery. This natural
To reduce inflammation and the resulting
swelling and pain, injured tissue needs to
be properly treated.The earlier you start
injury while you sleep.
• Compression. Keep the inflamed
area compressed by wrapping it in
“defense” process brings increased treatment, the better. an elastic bandage or stocking.
blood flow to the area, resulting Treatment for acute inflammation Compression prevents additional
in an accumulation of fluid. As consists of “R.I.C.E.” therapy— fluid accumulation and helps
the body mounts this protective which stands for Rest, Ice, reduce pain. Wrap the bandage
response, the symptoms of inflam- Compression, and Elevation. For more firmly at the toes and less
mation develop. These include: acute inflammation in the foot or firmly at the calf. If your toes tingle
• Swelling ankle, your foot and ankle surgeon or your foot throbs, the wrapping
• Pain will recommend the following: may need to be loosened. If the
• Increased warmth and redness • Rest. Stay off of your foot as tingling or throbbing continues
of the skin much as possible to prevent after loosening the wrap, contact
further injury. In some cases, your doctor as soon as possible.
Inflammation can be acute or complete immobilization may be • Elevation. Keeping the foot
chronic. When it is acute, it occurs as required. Your doctor will decide elevated reduces the swelling
an immediate response to trauma whether you will need crutches by allowing excess fluid to drain
(an injury or surgery)—usually and whether movement of your to the heart. The proper way to
within two hours. When it is chronic, foot or ankle is appropriate. elevate your foot is to keep it level
the inflammation reflects an ongoing • Ice. Icing, which decreases blood with or slightly above the heart.
response to a longer-term medical flow to the tissue, thus reducing Place one or two pillows under
condition, such as arthritis. swelling and pain, should be your calf, and make sure your hip
Inflammation is not the same as continued until your symptoms and knee are slightly bent. Never
infection. Infections are caused by resolve. Wrap ice cubes—or a bag of keep your leg extended straight out.
bacteria, fungus, and viruses, and frozen peas or corn—in a thin towel
infections sometimes produce and place the pack on the injured In addition to the above
inflammation. However, infection area for 20 minutes of each hour measures, your foot and ankle
and inflammation are treated you’re awake. If your skin turns blue surgeon may prescribe a
very differently. Your foot and ankle or white, discontinue icing for a few nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory
surgeon can best determine the hours. Two cautions: Never apply ice drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen,
cause of your inflamed tissue. or frozen bags directly to your skin. or another type of medication.
If Pain Persists or
Elevate the Leg Properly
Becomes Worse
The symptoms of inflammation
typically improve within two or three
days. If your pain and discomfort do
not improve after three days, call
Yes No
your doctor or go to an emergency
room to determine whether a more
serious problem exists.
As with any medical problem, it’s
important that you follow your doctor’s
instructions carefully regarding your
injury or postoperative care. ▲

Yes No

This information has been prepared by the Consumer Education Committee of the American College of Foot and
Ankle Surgeons, a professional society of 5,800 foot and ankle surgeons. Members of the College are Doctors of
Podiatric Medicine who have received additional training through surgical residency programs.
The mission of the College is to promote superior care of foot and ankle surgical patients through education,
research and the promotion of the highest professional standards.
Copyright © 2005, American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons • www.FootPhysicians.com