Sprains and Strains: How to treat them?

Sprains and strains are very common in people of all ages. A tear or stretch in the ligament is a sprain. Ligaments are the connective tissue between joints. On the other hand, a strain is a muscle injury that involves the stretching or tearing of muscle tissue that connects to the bone, such as a pulled muscle. From accidents to the wrong posture, there are numerous causes for sprains and strains. People often confuse one with the other due to its similar symptoms.

Symptoms of sprains and strains

The symptoms for both these conditions depend on their severity. Usual signs of sprains and strains include:

·         Pain

·         Swelling

·         Bruising

·         Difficulty in movement

Additional signs of a strain may include:

·         Tenderness

·         Muscle spasms

·         Weakness

Treatment for sprains and strains

If the symptoms aren’t very severe, the regular course of treatment is the four-step RICE method. It helps relieve pain and inflammation in the area of the injury. Here is how the RICE approach works:

·   R for Rest:

Rest is key to recovery in almost all medical conditions which have physical symptoms. Avoid any physical activity that hinders your recovery process. Give a break to the affected area and give it time to heal.

·   Ice:

Ice is the first aid for such injuries. The best approach is to use ice immediately right after, as it reduces inflammation and relieves pain. However, don’t apply ice directly to your skin to minimalize the risk of frostbite. Wrap the ice pack in a towel and put it over the injured area for 20 minutes. Repeat this 4 to 8 times a day. A bag of frozen peas or vegetables is a viable alternative to an ice pack if it isn’t available

·   Compress:

It means squeezing the affected joint or muscle by wrapping it to prevent inflammation. Use a bandage to cover the area, ensuring that it’s not very tight as it can obstruct the blood flow. Depending on the severity, an Orthopedic Surgeon may advise using a cast or a boot as well. Loosen the bandage if you feel tingling, numbness or if your skin is turning blur under the wrap.

·  Elevate:

Such injuries require elevation to decrease swelling. Try to keep the injured area above your heart. It’s simple in cases of wrist strains and sprains, however, if it’s your ankle or shin, you may need to lay down on the couch for a few days.

RICE method is the quickest and simplest treatment for sprains and strains. They can help you manage symptoms in the first 24 to 48 hours.

Other treatments

Your doctor may suggest Anti-inflammatory drugs or painkillers to help ease the symptoms. Nonetheless, don’t take any medication without your doctor’s advice. Such injuries usually get better themselves in a few days. Once the recovery is complete, physical therapy can help normalize the movement in the area. In some cases, the tear may require surgery, for which you may need to consult the Best Orthopedic Surgeon in Lahore or near you.

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