A sprain is the stretching or tearing of a ligament, which is the fibrous tissue that connects bones and joints. Ligaments are strong, stretchy, fibrous tissue that attach to the joints and bones. Ligaments can help the joints move and bend in ways they could not otherwise. Sometimes a sprain may initially be confused with a broken bone or injury other injury.
What is a sprain?
Symptoms can be similar in that the joint or area of the sprain will swell, there may be tenderness or redness at the site, or the joint may seem stiff and hard to move. However, sprains are different than broken bones. When a sprain occurs the ligaments are overstretched and take time, rest and cold compresses to return to a normal length. For example, a sprained ankle can occur when the ankle is rolled or twisted or turned in an awkward way. A sprained wrist could be the results of overuse of an office computer. Even a sprained thumb can cause problems for an avid video gamer. At QuestCare Urgent Care, we can evaluate your injury with an x-ray to determine if your injury is a broken bone or just a sprain that needs some extra attention.
How are sprains treated?
Most sprains heal well with rest of the affected area. The severity of a sprain can range from minor to severe depending on the injury. To further facilitate healing of the injured area your doctor may advise the use of ice to decrease swelling. Doctors may use a compression wrap to prevent movement and future damage to the ligaments and tendons surrounding the joint. Also keeping the injury elevated helps prevent injury. Your doctor may also recommend pain medication to help alleviate your pain. Sometimes sprains to the ankle or knee may need to be immobilized using a wrap or special bandaged to help the sprained heal. A patient may need the assistance of crutches if the ankle or knee is injured. Most sprains heal within a few days to a few weeks. If you experience a sprain, it is important to take it easy and follow your doctor’s recommendations to prevent re-injure of the joint.