How to treat strains and sprains

Strain and sprains are terms used to describe pains caused in the soft structure surrounding the bones and joints. They’re common among athletes.

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Signs and symptoms of sprains and strains

  1. muscle pain
  2. tenderness
  3. swelling
  4. bruising
  5. stiffness.

Treatment for strains and sprains usually involves a combination of RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and medication.

What to do

RICE therapy is the most important part of treatment for strains and sprains:

  • RRest the injured area
  • IIce it for 20 minutes at a time every few hours,
  • C – use Compression (a bandage or wrap)
  • EElevate the injury above the level of your heart as often as possible.

If you can’t tolerate RICE therapy, take ibuprofen or another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to reduce inflammation and pain.

Physical therapy may also be recommended to help you regain strength and range of motion. Surgery is rarely necessary for strains and sprains.

It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully so that you can recover as quickly as possible.

Tips for preventing strains and sprains

The best way to prevent strains and sprains is to stay in good shape and to warm up before you exercise. Be especially careful when you’re playing sports or doing activities that involve sudden stops and starts or that require you to twist your body.

If you do experience a strain or sprain, stop the activity and rest the injured area. Apply ice and compression, and elevate the injury above the level of your heart to reduce swelling. If you can’t elevate your leg, place a pillow beneath it.

Don’t try to tough out the pain associated with strains and sprains. If the pain persists for more than a few days or keeps coming back, see your doctor. You may need an X-ray or other imaging test to determine the extent of the injury.

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