Don't let a sprain throw you for a twist
A rolled ankle along the trail. A wrenched knee on the soccer pitch. An awkward landing at the playground. Life is full of twists and turns. When you or a family member are injured, recognizing the signs of a sprain will make it easier to know what you’re dealing with and how to treat it.
Signs of a sprain
A sprain is an injury to the body's ligaments, the strong bands of tissue that enclose and connect bones at a joint. Sprains most often occur at the ankle—a whopping 25,000 Americans sprain an ankle daily—but any joint is susceptible. While similar to a sprain, a strain affects the tendon that connects muscle to bone and is typically caused by overuse as opposed to injury.
Common sprain symptoms include:
- Swelling and bruising around the injured area
- Pain in the soft tissue over a bone
- Limited movement of mobility of the area
- A popping sound at the time of the injury
With a sprain, you’re typically able to put weight on the injured area, even if it’s painful. If you’re unable to put weight on the injured area, have pain on the bone or hear a cracking sound at the time of injury, you may have broken something. Minor or not, a medical provider should always assess a suspected fracture.
How to treat a sprain
If swelling and pain are minimal, use the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) for the few first days following an injury to ease discomfort, swelling and bruising.
- Rest and avoid using or placing weight on the injured area. Use crutches if necessary.
- Ice the injury with a cold pack every 2-4 hours for 10-20 minutes each time. Always wrap the pack in a cloth to prevent frostbite or other injury.
- Compress the injured area with an elastic wrap or bandage to prevent swelling and bruising. Wrap the area snuggly, but not tight enough to cut off circulation.
- Elevate the injured area above your heart while resting or sleeping to limit swelling and discomfort.
Along with RICE, taking an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen (Advil) can help with the swelling and pain.
Care you need, when you need it
Most sprains aren’t serious and heal quickly with proper treatment, but it’s a good idea to get your injury checked out if you have concerns or it isn’t getting better.
The trusted, friendly medical professionals at Indigo Urgent Care are available every day from 8 am to 8 pm to evaluate your injury and offer treatment options that will help get you back on your feet in no time.
We have on-site digital X-ray services to rule out a minor fracture, and we’ll even send you home with a pair of crutches if you need them.