Best Pain Relief Options For A Sprained Foot

Having a sprained foot can be a painful and frustrating experience. Whether it’s a result of an unfortunate accident or from overexertion during physical activities, finding the best pain relief options is essential for a speedy recovery. In this article, we will explore some of the most effective methods to alleviate pain and discomfort caused by a sprained foot. From proven home remedies to medical treatments, you will discover a range of options that will help you get back on your feet in no time. So, let’s dive in and uncover the best pain relief options for a sprained foot.

Best Pain Relief Options For A Sprained Foot

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medications

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

When it comes to alleviating the pain and inflammation caused by a sprained foot, Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are one of the best over-the-counter options available. Commonly used NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium can help reduce swelling, relieve pain, and promote faster healing. These medications work by inhibiting the production of certain chemicals in the body that cause inflammation and pain. It is important to follow the recommended dosage instructions and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any underlying health conditions or are currently taking other medications.

Topical Pain Relievers

Another effective option for pain relief is using topical pain relievers. These creams, gels, or ointments can be directly applied to the affected area, providing localized pain relief. Topical pain relievers often contain ingredients such as menthol or capsaicin, which work by numbing the nerves or reducing pain signals. These products can be a convenient and non-invasive way to manage pain without the potential side effects associated with oral medications. However, it is important to follow the instructions on the product label and avoid using them on broken or irritated skin.


For individuals who are unable to take NSAIDs or prefer an alternative option, acetaminophen can be a suitable over-the-counter medication for pain relief. Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and fever reducer that can help alleviate the discomfort caused by a sprained foot. Although it doesn’t have anti-inflammatory properties like NSAIDs, acetaminophen can effectively reduce pain without posing the same risk of stomach irritation. It is important to follow the recommended dosage and avoid exceeding the maximum daily limit to prevent potential liver damage.

RICE Method


One of the first things you should do when dealing with a sprained foot is to provide it with ample rest. Resting the affected foot helps prevent further injury and allows the body to begin the healing process. It is advisable to avoid activities that put strain on the foot, such as running or jumping, until the pain and swelling have subsided. Be sure to use crutches or other assistive devices if necessary to offload weight from the injured foot and facilitate proper rest.


Applying ice to a sprained foot can help reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. Ice works by constricting blood vessels, which in turn decreases blood flow to the injured area and helps to minimize swelling. It is recommended to apply ice to the affected area for about 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours during the first few days following the sprain. To protect the skin, it is important to wrap the ice pack or ice cubes in a thin towel or cloth before applying it to the foot.


Using compression is another effective method to manage pain and swelling associated with a sprained foot. Compression can be achieved by using an elastic bandage or compression wrap to provide gentle pressure on the injured area. This pressure helps to reduce swelling by preventing the accumulation of fluid. When applying the compression wrap, be careful not to wrap it too tightly, as this can impede blood circulation. It is recommended to loosen the wrap if you experience numbness, tingling, or increased pain.


Elevating the sprained foot is crucial in reducing swelling and promoting healing. By elevating the foot, you help facilitate the drainage of excess fluid and reduce the pressure on the injured tissues. To elevate your foot properly, find a comfortable position where the foot is elevated above the level of the heart. You can use pillows or an orthopedic device to support your foot in this elevated position. It is recommended to keep the foot elevated for at least 2-3 hours each day to maximize the benefits.

Physical Therapy

Manual Therapy

Physical therapy plays a crucial role in the recovery process after a sprained foot. One modality commonly used by physical therapists is manual therapy. Manual therapy involves hands-on techniques such as joint mobilization, soft tissue massage, and stretching exercises to target specific areas of the foot. These techniques help improve mobility, reduce pain, and restore normal function. Physical therapists are skilled in assessing your condition and applying the appropriate manual therapy techniques to aid in your recovery.

Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening exercises are an integral part of physical therapy for a sprained foot. These exercises help rebuild the strength and stability of the foot and ankle, reducing the risk of future injuries. Strengthening exercises may include toe curls, heel raises, and resistance band exercises, among others. It is important to perform these exercises under the guidance of a physical therapist to ensure proper form and prevent further damage.

Range of Motion Exercises

Range of motion exercises are designed to improve the flexibility and mobility of the foot and ankle. These exercises involve moving the foot and ankle through their full range of motion, helping to restore normal joint function and prevent stiffness. Range of motion exercises may include ankle circles, toe stretches, and calf stretches. It is important to start these exercises gradually and increase the intensity and duration as tolerated.

Ankle Brace or Support


Using an ankle brace or support can provide stability to the injured foot and limit excessive movement. An ankle brace is designed to immobilize the foot, preventing any further strain on the injured ligaments. By stabilizing the foot, an ankle brace helps reduce pain and allows for proper healing. It is important to choose the appropriate size and type of ankle brace based on your specific needs and the severity of your injury.


An ankle brace or support also provides protection to the injured foot, preventing additional injuries during the healing process. The brace acts as a barrier, absorbing some of the impact and protecting the ankle from sudden movements or accidental bumps. Wearing an ankle brace can give you the confidence to engage in daily activities without the fear of re-injuring the foot.


In addition to stabilization and protection, an ankle brace or support can provide compression to the injured area. Compression helps reduce swelling and inflammation by improving blood circulation and promoting the reabsorption of excess fluid. It is important to choose an ankle brace that provides the right amount of compression without restricting blood flow.

Best Pain Relief Options For A Sprained Foot

Pain-Relieving Creams or Gels

Capsaicin-based Creams

Capsaicin-based creams are a popular choice for pain relief due to their ability to interfere with pain signals. Capsaicin, the active component found in chili peppers, works by depleting a neurotransmitter called substance P, which is responsible for transmitting pain signals to the brain. When applied topically, capsaicin creams can provide temporary relief from foot pain caused by a sprain. It is important to note that capsaicin creams may cause a warming or burning sensation, especially during the initial applications. It is recommended to wash your hands thoroughly after each use and avoid applying the cream to broken or irritated skin.

Menthol-based Gels

Menthol-based gels are another popular choice for pain relief. Menthol, derived from the peppermint plant, produces a cooling sensation on the skin when applied topically. This cooling effect helps to distract from pain and provide temporary relief. Menthol-based gels can be easily applied to the affected area multiple times a day as necessary. However, it is important to avoid contact with eyes, mucous membranes, or broken skin, as this can cause irritation.

Arnica-based Creams

Arnica-based creams are derived from the Arnica montana plant and have been used for centuries to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Arnica creams work by increasing blood flow to the injured area, which helps promote healing and reduce swelling. These creams are easy to apply and can be used several times a day. However, it is important to avoid using Arnica creams on broken skin or open wounds, as this may lead to irritation.

Cold Compresses

Ice Pack

Using an ice pack can effectively reduce pain and inflammation associated with a sprained foot. An ice pack provides targeted cooling to the injured area and helps constrict blood vessels, reducing blood flow and minimizing swelling. Ice packs are readily available at most drugstores or can be easily made at home by placing ice cubes in a plastic bag and covering it with a thin towel or cloth. It is important to closely monitor the skin for signs of frostbite and limit ice pack applications to 15-20 minutes at a time.

Frozen Vegetables

If you don’t have an ice pack readily available, frozen vegetables can be a convenient alternative. Peas or corn, when stored in the freezer, can easily mold to the shape of your foot, providing optimum pain relief. Just like using an ice pack, it is important to wrap the frozen vegetables in a thin towel or cloth before applying them to the foot to protect the skin from direct contact with the cold.

Hot Compresses

Moist Heat

Moist heat is another effective option for pain relief, especially during the later stages of a sprained foot when swelling has subsided. Applying moist heat to the foot can help relax muscles, increase blood flow, and promote healing. Moist heat can be achieved by using a warm towel or cloth soaked in hot water. It is important to ensure that the temperature is comfortable and not too hot to prevent burns. Moist heat can be applied for 15-20 minutes at a time, multiple times a day as needed.

Warm Towel

A warm towel can also provide soothing relief to a sprained foot. To create a warm towel, simply soak a towel in hot water, wring out the excess moisture, and apply it to the affected area. The gentle warmth of the towel helps to increase circulation and relax tense muscles. It is important to test the temperature of the warm towel with your hand before applying it to the foot to avoid burns.

Over-the-Counter Arch Supports

Gel Cushions

Over-the-counter gel cushions can help provide support and cushioning to the arch of the foot, reducing pain and discomfort. These cushions are made from soft silicone or gel materials and are designed to be worn inside your shoes. The gel cushions provide shock absorption, redistributing pressure away from the injured area. They can be easily inserted and removed as needed and are available in various sizes to accommodate different foot types.

Orthotic Inserts

Orthotic inserts are another option for individuals looking to improve the support and alignment of their feet. These inserts are designed to provide customized support by correcting foot posture and distributing weight more evenly. Orthotic inserts can help relieve pain caused by a sprained foot by reducing excessive pressure on the injured ligaments. They can be purchased over-the-counter or can be custom-made by a healthcare professional to suit your specific foot needs.


Pillow Support

Elevating the foot with the help of pillows is a simple and effective way to reduce swelling and promote healing. By propping your foot up on a pillow while resting or sleeping, you allow gravity to assist in draining excess fluid from the injured area. It is important to choose a pillow that provides adequate support and prevents your foot from rolling or sliding off. The height of the pillow should be enough to raise the foot above the level of the heart for optimal results.

Orthopedic Device

Using an orthopedic device, such as an adjustable wedge or foam block, can provide stable and consistent elevation for your foot. These devices are specifically designed to keep the foot elevated at the desired height, providing sustained relief throughout the day or night. Orthopedic devices are available in various sizes and designs, allowing you to choose one that suits your specific comfort needs.

Braces or Splints

Walking Boot

In more severe cases of foot sprains, a walking boot may be recommended by healthcare professionals to promote proper healing and protect the injured foot. A walking boot is a rigid yet supportive brace that provides stability and immobilization. It allows for limited movement while protecting the foot from further injury. The walking boot typically has adjustable straps or closures that ensure a secure and comfortable fit. It is important to follow the healthcare professional’s instructions in terms of duration and usage of the walking boot.

Ankle Brace

An ankle brace is another type of brace that can be used to support and stabilize the injured foot. An ankle brace is typically made from a combination of elastic or neoprene materials and provides a snug fit around the foot and ankle. It is designed to limit excessive movement and provide additional support to weakened ligaments. Ankle braces can be worn during physical activities or as a preventive measure to reduce the risk of re-injury. It is important to choose the appropriate size and consult with a healthcare professional for guidance on proper usage.