How to Care for Your Sprain
July 24th, 2017 by Synergy Admin
No matter how careful you are, it’s simply impossible to live your life without ever sustaining some form of injury. One of the most common injuries among people of all ages is a sprain, but even though a sprain is not generally a serious concern, it can lead to long-term problems if it is not properly treated. At Synergy Sports Wellness Institute™, we work hard to help keep our patients healthy and pain-free, so we’ve laid out the important things that you need to know about sprains.
Ligaments are the elastic bands of connective tissue that hold together and stabilize your bones at the joints. A sprain occurs when one or more of these ligaments are stretched or torn, typically when the joint is twisted incorrectly, such as when you roll your ankle. Sprains can range in severity from Grade I (ligaments are stretched) to Grade II (ligaments are partially torn) or Grade III (ligaments are fully torn). You’ll usually recognize a sprain by the joint pain you feel at the time it occurs. Depending on the severity of the injury, your joint will also likely be swollen or bruised. You may experience significant pain when attempting to walk and it may even be too painful to put weight onto the joint at all.
How to Treat a Sprain
Most sprains are mild enough to be treated with first aid at home. Just use the RICE guidelines:
- Rest – Limit using your injured joint as much as possible.
- Ice – Put an ice pack inside a towel and apply it to your injury for twenty minutes. Remove the ice for thirty minutes, and then continue in this repetition. You should do this as much as possible during the first 24 hours after your injury. Then, for the next few days, repeat three to four times each day.
- Compression – Wrap your injured joint (even while you’re resting it) to stabilize it and reduce swelling.
- Elevation – Rest your injury at or above the level of your heart for two to three hours each day. This will help reduce swelling and bruising.
In most cases, the pain and swelling will diminish over the course of a few days, so you should plan to take it easy and listen to your body. If certain activities hurt, avoid them.
When to See a Doctor for a Sprain
It is usually advisable to see a doctor after any injury to ensure that it isn’t more severe than you think it is and to make sure that you’re getting the proper treatment. For a sprain, it’s particularly important to see a doctor if your joint has significant swelling or deformity, or if you aren’t able to put weight on the joint. These may be signs of bone fractures, which are sometimes mistaken for sprains. It’s also a good idea to see a doctor for sprain treatment if you have significant bruising, because this can be a sign of a Grade II or Grade III sprain which may need more specialized treatment. Finally, be sure to visit a doctor if your injury is still painful after 5-7 days, or if it becomes increasingly discolored, numb, or tingly.
Your doctor will most likely perform an x-ray and/or MRI (two types of imaging tests) to determine the exact nature and severity of your injury. He/she may put your joint in a cast or splint. In rare, severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair fully torn ligaments. As your injury heals, our providers at Synergy Sports Wellness Institute can give you some therapy exercises that will help to strengthen and improve mobility in your joint.
If a Sprain Isn’t Treated Properly
Even if your sprain seems to be mild, long-term complications can arise if you don’t give it the rest, ice, and other considerations that it needs. An improperly healed sprain can lead to chronic pain in the joint, as well as long-term weakness and instability, which can further increase your risk of re-injury. In some cases, untreated sprains can even put you at a greater risk for developing arthritis.
Minor injuries may be unavoidable, but even injuries that start small can have serious consequences if they’re not cared for properly. Whether you’ve suffered a recent injury and are still in the healing process or you’re dealing with more long-term issues from an old injury that didn’t heal correctly, our experts at Synergy Sports Wellness Institute are here to help. Give us a call to schedule a chiropractic or rehabilitation appointment, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.