When we accidentally wrench or twist a ligament violently that causes pain and swelling but not dislocation, it is called a sprain. The most common site where a sprain usually occurs is the ankle joint, knee joint and wrist joint.
So what are the causes of a sprain? You can get an ankle sprain while exercising, walking on an uneven surface or falling down. An awkward landing after a jump can also give you a sprain. At the knee, sprains mostly occur during athletic activities while a wrist sprain occurs after landing on a stretched hand after a fall.
What are the symptoms of a sprain? The signs and symptoms vary depending on the severity of the injury and may include pain, swelling, bruising, immobility of the joints and hearing or feeling a popping sound at the joint at the time of injury.
Sprains can be treated at home by a simple method known as the PRICE method. This treatment entails the following steps:
P-PROTECT- The injured area needs to be protected. A wrap, taping or bracing can achieve this. This will help in preventing the injury from getting worse.
With sprains, the time needed for full recovery can vary according to the intensity of injuryR-REST- Rest the injured area. Reduce activities that cause pain. Sprains should be given proper time to heal. So avoid stressing the affected area.
I - ICE- Apply ice therapy to the injured area for 20 minutes for about four to eight times a day. Allow the body temperature to become normal before applying the second (consecutive) round. There should be a minimum gap of 40 to 80 minutes between ice therapy sessions. Cold packs, ice bags or plastic bags filled with crushed ice wrapped in a towel can be used.
C-COMPRESS- Wrap the injured area using bandages, casts, boots, elastic wraps or splints to reduce swelling. This is a very necessary and important step. If in any case it is increasing the ping then the compression is too tight.
E - Elevate- The injured area has to be elevated above the level of the heart (to decrease swelling) while you are sitting or lying. This helps in increasing the blood flow to the injured part and speeds up the healing process.
With sprains, the time needed for full recovery can vary. For mild sprains it is 3 to 6 weeks, for moderate sprains it is 2 to 3 months and for severe sprains the healing time can be anywhere between 8 to 12 months.
You can avoid sprains by taking a few precautions. For instance always stretch before a workout, use proper footwear, warm up adequately before doing activities, do not run on uneven surfaces and exercise caution while walking.