Learn more about sprains and the associated symptoms and treatment options.
A sprain occurs when a ligament or multiple ligaments are injured by stretching or tearing. Sprains are usually the result of fall, sudden twist, or any other blow that forces a joint to leave its normal position. When the joint is out of its regular position, the ligament supporting the joint overstretches or tears.
- The ankle is one of the most common spots for a sprain
- However, sprains can occur in any joint
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Symptoms of sprains usually come on quickly. The greater the pain and swelling, the more severe the injury is.
Common symptoms include:
- Rapid swelling
- Limited ability to move the affected joint
- Hearing a ‘pop’ in the joint at time of injury
Most minor sprains can be managed with RICE (rest, ice, compress, elevate), but more severe sprains could require further attention. If you do not see improvement in a sprain after two or three days, you should see a doctor. You should get immediate medical assistance if you can’t use the joint at all, you develop redness or streaks, or you have re-injured an area that has been injured numerous times in the past. Symptoms can be reduced with the following:
- RICE – Rest the injured area, ice the area, compress the area with a wrap or bandage, and elevate the injured area above your heart whenever possible.
- Immobilize severe sprains – Your doctor may tape, splint, or cast the sprain to allow it to heal in a secure position.
- Surgery in very severe cases – If a sprain completely tears a ligament, surgery may be required.