A sprain is an injury to a ligament, that involves overstretching or tearing a ligament. Ligaments are the connective tissue that connect bones to other bones at your joints. Ligaments create stability in the joint so your muscles and joints can work together effectively.
You’ll experience pain and swelling, and possibly bruising and limited mobility at the joint. You’ve likely suffered a sprain if you heard or felt a popping sensation in your joint at the time of the injury.
Your ankle is the most common place to experience a sprain, but you can sprain other joints, including your knee, wrist, and thumb.
Bending, and overextending a joint beyond its normal use is the chief cause of sprains. For your ankle, running or walking on an uneven surface and misstepping can cause a sprain. Attempting to change direction too quickly while playing sports is a primary cause of knee sprains. Your thumb is vulnerable to sprains during racquet sports. If you landed hard on your hands it would not be uncommon for you to sprain your wrist.
Dr. Santos and Dr. Sharma look at any swelling, bruises, and test the affected joint’s range of movement. They may order an MRI to evaluate soft tissue damage and possibly an X-ray to rule out the possibility of damage to your bone’s, too.
Rest encourages healing and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories help you manage pain. Ice packs applied to the sprain minimizes swelling.
Elevation, or raising your sprained joint, and compression also alleviate swelling.
The doctors may fit you with a brace or splint to minimize movement.
As you heal, ask about using athletic tape or compression bandages to support the sprain as you start to reintroduce movement.
Doctors assign sprains grades I-III according to their severity. The higher the grade, the more severe the injury to the ligament or ligaments and the longer healing time you’ll require. Expect your sprain to take two to six weeks to heal. In some cases it may take longer.
Follow the doctor’s treatment plan so you recover fully.
Trying to speed up healing or using the joint before it’s ready risks re-injury or possible chronic pain in the future.
Ask the doctors about strengthening and stretching exercises that will help you prevent another similar injury.
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