Goyal Hospital

Sprains: Symptoms, Causes, Risk, Diagnosis, Prevention, and Treatment

What is Sprains?

Ligaments, the tough bands of fibrous tissue that link two bones in your joints, can be stretched or torn, resulting in a sprain. An ankle sprain is the most common type of sprain.

When a ligament is strained or torn, a sprain occurs. A ligament is a dense, rope-like band of tissue that holds two or more bones together at a joint. One or more ligaments may have been injured when you sustained a sprain. Even though the names can occasionally be used interchangeably, a sprain differs from a strain. A strain occurs when a muscle’s attachment to a bone is stretched, pulled, or torn.

The first step in treating a sprain is to rest, apply ice, apply compression, and elevate the affected area. It is possible to treat minor sprains at home. Surgery may be necessary to mend torn ligaments in cases of severe sprains.

A strain involves an injury to a muscle or to the bar of tissue that connects a muscle to a bone, whereas a sprain involves damage to the bands of tissue that link two bones.

Symptoms of Sprains:

A sprain typically occurs abruptly near a joint. Depending on how many tissue fibers are damaged, symptoms might range from moderate to severe. These signs include

  • pain
  • swelling
  • bruising
  • limited movement around the joint
  • Having difficulty putting weight on the joint or using it normally
  • a “popping” sensation at the time of the injury

Although a strain may build gradually, it can also happen unexpectedly. These signs include:

  • pain or tenderness
  • swelling
  • bruising
  • muscle spasms or cramping
  • muscle weakness
  • limited movement in the area

What causes Sprains?

Sprains are most frequently caused by falling, twisting, or sustaining joint trauma. The joint may move outside of its usual range of motion as a result of these injuries, potentially tearing or stretching the ligament.

Sprains can result from a variety of situations.

  • On an uneven surface, you can run or walk.
  • abruptly twisting or turning.
  • falling and striking a hand or wrist.
  • taking part in racquet sports.
  • sports-related contact injuries

Types of Sprain:

Yes, sprains come in varying degrees of severity, much like other types of injuries. The severity of the ankle or wrist ligament damage determines the degrees.

  • Mild sprain. The ligaments are only slightly stretched.
  • Moderate sprain. The ligament is partially torn and stretched in combination.
  • Severe sprain. The ligament has completely torn.

Diagnosis of Sprain:

These are the methods listed below that we can use to diagnose a sprain.

  • Your doctor will examine your injured limb physically to look for swelling and sensitive spots. Your pain’s location and intensity can provide information about the type and scope of the harm.
  • An imaging test, such as an x-ray or an MRI, is another choice your doctor has to assess the degree of bone or muscle damage.

How can Sprains prevent?

When people abruptly increase the length, degree, or frequency of their activities, injuries frequently result. It is possible to avoid a lot of soft-tissue injuries by exercising and conditioning properly. Other preventative advice is as follows:

  • Use proper equipment. If your sports shoes begin to deteriorate, you should replace them. Allow yourself to move freely and remove body heat by wearing comfortable, loose clothing.
  • For fitness, balance is key. Create a well-rounded fitness plan that includes flexibility, strength training, and cardiovascular exercise. Add new exercises and activities slowly. Do not try to take on too many activities at once, regardless of whether you have been inactive or are in good physical form. It is better to limit the number of additional activities you add to one or two per session.
  • Get warm. Even before stretching, warm up before exercising. Taking a few deep breaths, running in place, or practicing the movements of the next exercise would all be great exercises. Your heart and blood flow rates rise during warm-up, and your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints become more flexible.
  • ingest water. It is important to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, heat stroke, and tiredness. One pint of water should be consumed 15 minutes before exercising, followed by another pint afterward. Approximately 20 minutes after exercising, sip water.
  • Become calm. Make cooling down the last step of your workout. The duration should be double that of your warm-up. Before you entirely stop, reduce the speed and force of your movements for at least 10 minutes. When your skin is dry and you’ve had a chance to calm down, this portion of a safe workout program should come to an end.
  • Start your stretches gently and cautiously until you feel some tightness in your muscles. Holding each stretch for 10 to 20 seconds, release it softly and with care. Take a deep breath before stretching, and exhale after each stretch. Each stretch should only be performed once. Whenever you strained a muscle, never overextend it, keep your movements under control, and avoid bouncing when strained it.
  • Plan regular days off from strenuous activity and rest when worn out. Not exercising is a smart idea if you’re tired or in discomfort.
  • Avoid being a weekend warrior. Make an effort to engage in moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes each day. If time is of the essence, you can divide it into 10-minute segments.

Types of Sports Sprain:

Almost every part of your body can sprain. The most typical locations for sports sprains are the:

  • Wrist: For all different types of athletes, a wrist sprain is a common ailment. All it takes is a brief lapse of equilibrium. You instinctively reach out with your hand as soon as you start to fall. However, the force of impact causes your hand to bend back toward your forearm as it reaches the ground. The ligaments connecting the bones of the wrist and hand may be slightly overstretched as a result. The ligament may end up with minor tears or, worse yet, a complete break.
  • Thumb: Sprains of the thumb are frequent injuries in which a ligament within the thumb joint stretches or tears. Your ligament may be partially or totally torn in severe thumb sprains, necessitating surgery. Rest, the use of a splint, and physical therapy is frequently used in the treatment of thumb sprains.
  • Ankle: When you roll, twist, or awkwardly turn your ankle, you sustain an injury. As a result, your ankle bones may be torn or stretched by strong tissue bands (ligaments). An ankle sprain occurs when ligaments are pushed beyond their normal range of motion. Most sprained ankles involve injury to the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.
  • Knee: The ligaments that keep bones together—those that are ripped or stretched—are referred to as knee sprains. The structures in the knee joint that attach the thigh bone to the shin bone are damaged if you have a sprained knee. A knee sprain hurts, and it can eventually lead to arthritis and other issues.

How long does it take to recover from a sprain?

Sprains have different periods to heal according to the condition of the sprain i.e. how severe it is. So no one can determine the recovery period of a sprain without a doctor’s examination. But generally, a sprain can be recovered in

  • Two weeks is the average time it takes for a sprain to heal.
  • For up to 8 weeks, refrain from doing any vigorous exercise, such as jogging, as there is a chance of further injury.
  • It might take months for severe sprains and strains to heal.

How are Sprains treated?


For both sprains and strains, it’s crucial to adhere to the four-step RICE treatment to lessen swelling and release pressure on the injured area:

RICE stands for:

  • Stop any physical activity, including exercise, and steer clear of putting any weight on the injured leg.
  • Every two to three hours, apply ice to the wound for up to 20 minutes. If someone does not have access to ice packs, they can utilize bags of frozen vegetables.
  • A bandage or piece of trainer’s tape applied to the affected area will assist minimize swelling. If the area becomes numb or if the discomfort gets worse, loosen the bandage.
  • If at all feasible, keep the affected region elevated above chest level.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin IB or Advil), both of which are available over the counter, can also help relieve pain and swelling.


If the injury is mild and the affected person can tolerate the pain, they may not need any medication. If needed, some painkiller options can be obtained over the counter or prescribed by doctors. The options include the following:

  • It helps to reduce discomfort to taking paracetamol. Instead of taking paracetamol sometimes, it is preferable to do so frequently for a few days or so. Adults should take one to two 500 mg tablets, four times daily, with at least four hours elapsing between each dose. Stronger medicines may be recommended by a doctor if the pain is more intense.
  • Anti-inflammatory painkillers. Additionally known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). They reduce discomfort and might also reduce swelling and inflammation. Anti-inflammatory drugs that may be purchased at a pharmacy without a prescription include Ibuprofen and Naproxen. It is advised to use caution when using any NSAIDs to avoid any negative side effects.
  • Topical anti-inflammatory painkillers. Some topical anti-inflammatory medications are available over the counter at pharmacies, similar to NSAIDs. These typically contain diclofenac or ibuprofen. Others might contain menthol or other cooling chemicals that, when applied topically, can provide a calming effect. It’s unclear whether this choice is effective. The likelihood of adverse effects is lower when topical analgesics are used.

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