Previously I posted about sprains and breaks. Sprains are more common, so I thought I’d write a bit more about them.
In general terms a sprain is when you stretch a ligament beyond its normal reach. This occurs most commonly when you roll your ankle, or fall and bend your wrist back further than it would normally go.
Sprains hurt. They can hurt a lot. Your basic treatment is to apply ice, immobilize the injured area and seek medical attention. The ice will help numb the pain and will reduce any swelling. Immobilization will help the injured area to rest and will make your trip to the doctor’s office or emergency room a lot easier or at least a bit more pain-free.
With minor sprains you can probably just use ice, immobilization or rest, and keep the injured area elevated. With more severe strains you will need medical treatment. How do you know the difference? You may not know on your own, hence the suggestion to seek medical attention. A mild sprain can be treated easily; a more serious sprain may involve actual tearing of the ligament or surrounding muscle tissue and may require surgery. A good general rule of thumb is that if you are not sure how badly you’re injured – err on the side of caution and seek medical attention. Some sprains can take longer to recover from than if you had actually broken a bone.
Now an important medical disclaimer: If you think you have a severe sprain and it is excruciatingly painful, you can’t bear weight on a knee, ankle, foot or cannot use your arm due to the pain; you’ve been involved in a traumatic situation or a fall from a height; please call 911 or your local emergency number. That is when you need the help of your local fire department or ambulance crew.