How To Care For Sprains And Strains
It is easy to confuse sprains and strains, and while the treatment for both is similar, these injuries are actually quite different. A sprain will involve a joint such as the ankle, wrist, knee, or elbow. Any joint, however, can be affected, even the toes. A sprain is an injury to the ligaments that hold the joint in place, and is quite common not only from participating in sports, but also from walking or running over uneven ground. When a sprain occurs the affected area will swell and a bruise will form. It will be difficult or impossible to use the limb as these injuries are quite painful.
A strain is an injury to the muscles or tendons. When a strain occurs, the muscle is actually torn, as are the tendons attached to it. Strains can happen when going about normal chores, hiking, or participating in sports. Like the sprain, this is a painful injury, and will need care in order to heal quickly.
Treatment For Sprains And Strains
The best way to treat these injuries is by applying the acronym R.I.C.E. This stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Rest means just that – the person should use the affected joint as little as possible, and if the sprain is to the ankle or knee, then the patient should walk only when it is absolutely necessary.
Ice should be applied to the area to help reduce swelling. This will also help in dealing with pain. The ice should not be placed directly onto the skin, it should be in an ice bag, or crushed ice can be put into a plastic bag and then wrapped in a towel. The ice should not be left on for more than 20 minutes to prevent damage to the tissues from cold. Ice can be used up to 8 times a day.
Compression is best applied by use of an elastic bandage. When wrapping an ankle (probably the most common site for a sprain), begin near the toes and wrap upwards. Do not make the bandage too tight, you do not want to cut off circulation. Unwrap the bandage every couple of hours to make sure the blood flow has not be impacted. The use of an elastic bandage will assist in reducing the swelling.
Elevate the injured joint to help control swelling. If you are able to elevate the injured joint above the level of the heart, this will greatly assist in getting the swelling down.
Treating Serious Sprains And Strains
Although most of these injuries respond well to home treatment, there are times when professional medical care will be required to heal the sprain or strain. There is also the possibility that there is a fractured bone, so an x-ray may be needed. In some cases, surgery will be necessary to repair snapped or severely injured ligaments or tendons. If there is any doubt about the severity of the injury, medical advice should be sought immediately.
A good idea is to prepare your family with a first aid kit containing supplies to not only cover sprains but anything that could unexpectedly happen. We offer first aid trauma kits that we put together for you. Already including everything you need from Ice packs to gauze pads, you can't go wrong with over preparation.