How To Treat Sprains and Strains

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Overview

A strain or sprain is a relatively common injury which affects the ligaments or muscles. Most commonly, this type of injury is caused by changing speed or direction suddenly while playing sports, or sometimes by colliding with another person or object, or by having an awkward fall or landing.

A strain or sprain is a relatively common injury to the ligaments or muscles.
A strain or sprain is a relatively common injury to the ligaments or muscles.

 

 

 

Sprain Injuries

Sprains occur when the ligament has been torn, twisted or stretched, usually because an excessive amount of force has been applied to the joint. A ligament is a band of tissue which goes around a joint  and connects the bones together.

The most common areas of the body to suffer from sprains include the knees, wrists, thumbs, and ankles. There are several symptoms which indicate a sprain injury including:

  • Pain in the area of the affected joint
  • Being unable to bear weight on the joint or use it normally
  • Tenderness, swelling or bruising in the affected area – immediately after the injury there may be some swelling, however, any bruising may take several hours to appear or may not occur at all.

Strain Injuries

A strain happens when there is stretching or tearing in the muscle fibres, usually as a result of the affected muscle being stretched or forced to shorten and contract too quickly. Most commonly, muscle strains affect the back or the legs, specifically the back’s lower lumbar region and the hamstring muscles.

Some symptoms of strained muscles include:

  • Redness, bruising or swelling
  • Pain to the affected muscle even when it is at rest
  • Pain in the joint and muscle when it is used
  • Spasms in the muscle (when there are tight and painful contractions in the muscle)
  • Weakness or loss of function in the muscle

When Should You Get Medical Help For Sprains And Strains?

Although most sprain or strain injuries can easily be treated at home, there are some circumstances in which you should visit your doctor. Get medical help if:

  • You have severe pain
  • You are unable to bear any weight on the limb or whenever you try to use it, it gives way
  • The affected area appears crooked or has any bumps or lumps that cannot be explained
  • There is any coldness, numbness or discoloration around the affected area
  • If there has been no improvement after several days

A doctor should assess your symptoms if any of the above apply as you may be suffering from a severe sprain or strain or even a fracture.

How To Prevent Strains And Sprains

To guard against strains and sprains you should always:

  • Wear appropriate footwear
  • Warm up before exercising
  • Perform regular exercises for flexibility and strengthening of the muscles

 

How To Treat Strains And Sprains

Usually, you can treat a sprain or strain yourself by following the PRICE procedure i.e. Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

If you are suffering from a sprain, you should begin moving the affected joint as soon as the pain has eased. On the other hand, you should immobilise a sprained muscle for several days so it can heal properly.

Related Video on Sprains and Strains

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