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What is a sprain? How to treat a sprain?

Sprain is used to describe a wide range of injuries. But a true sprain involves damage to ligaments i.e. bands of elastic like tissue that supports joints such as knee, ankle, shoulder by connecting the bones. A sprain occurs when a twist or stretch causes a joint to move outside its normal range of motion and ligaments stretch or tear.

A symptom can cause the joint to swell rapidly. Discoloration of your skin from the rupture of small blood vessels may occur. There may be pain and tenderness and joint function may be impaired. To treat a minor soft tissue injury, remember PRICE which stands for Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

Protection: Protect your joint from further injury. An elastic wrap, brace, sling, air cast, cane or crutches may help support the joint and encourage healing.
Rest: Avoid movements of the injured joint that cause pain or swelling.
Ice: Cold reduces swelling and inflammation, decreases muscle spasms and help relieve pain. Apply ice or an ice pack wrapped in a cloth or towel or use a bag of frozen peas which conforms well to the body. Cover the ice pack with a dry towel or a blanket for insulation. Apply ice for no more than 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. Do not apply heat, which can cause more swelling. If you have vascular disease, rheumatism or decreased sensation, take your doctor’s advice.
Compression: This decreases bruising and swelling. Keep the joint wrapped snug but not tight until swelling subsides. Loosen if pain increases or you have numbness.
Elevation: Raising a swollen joint above the level of your heart reduces swelling. This is especially important at night.

Continue this treatment as long as it helps.You should see a doctor if you:
– hear a popping sound.
– have immediate difficulty using the injured joint.
– can not put weight on the joint.
– see significant deformity or swelling.
– if pain and difficulty continue for longer than 2 or 3 days.

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