At-Home Treatments For a Sprain

At-Home Treatments For a Sprain

You may try to shrug off a sprain because it doesn’t involve a fracture. However, a sprain can still cause serious damage and pain. In fact, a sprain can take 4-6 weeks to heal, and some sprains require medical intervention to avoid long-term problems.

At Orthopaedic Care Specialists in North Palm Beach, Florida, Thomas F. Saylor, MD, helps people of all ages recover from sprains, including children. If you sustain a sprain, here’s how you can care for your injury at home — and how you can tell if you need to schedule an appointment with an expert.

What it means to have a sprain

When you suffer a sprain, this means you have overstretched or torn a ligament. A ligament is a fibrous tissue that connects bones to other bones in a joint. Sprains are a common injury, especially to the ankles, knees, wrists, and thumbs, and they often occur during athletic activity or falls.

Signs of a sprain can vary depending on their severity, but they typically include:

If you experience numbness in the injury site, severe pain, pain directly over the bones of the joint, or can’t move it or bear weight on it, you should get medical care as soon as possible.

Caring for a sprain at home

If you think you sustained a sprain, it’s time to take action immediately, and you can do it in the comfort of your own home. The best course of action is to start the RICE protocol.

R: Rest

The moment you hurt yourself, it’s time to rest the area. This means avoiding any activities that can cause swelling, pain, or other types of discomfort.

I: Ice

Next up, apply ice for 15-20 minutes, and repeat this step every 2-3 hours while awake. Continue following this protocol for the first few days after sustaining your injury.

C: Compression

Now it’s time to reach for the elastic bandages to help stop the swelling. When wrapping the site, start at the end of the injury farthest from your heart, and don’t wrap too tightly. If you notice swelling or numbness below the wrapped area, loosen the bandage.

E: Elevation

Finally, whenever possible, keep the injury site elevated above your heart. This step is especially important during the first 48 hours and at night, so gravity can help reduce swelling in the area.

You can also take over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. 

After the first few days, you can try to start using the injured area again. Be gentle and go slow, because recovery from strains can take days and even months. However, you should notice gradual improvement in your symptoms as time passes.

When to see an expert

As we mentioned above, if you experience numbness in the injury site, severe pain, pain directly over the bones of the joint, or can’t move it or bear weight on it, you should see a doctor. Furthermore, you should also schedule an appointment if you don’t notice an improvement after a few days of using the RICE protocol.

Some sprains can require additional methods of immobilization, such as braces or splints, to increase strength and stability in the area during the recovery process. Dr. Saylor may also recommend physical therapy to help with the healing process. Furthermore, he may recommend a regenerative treatment, such as platelet-rich plasma therapy, which can give your body additional resources to boost healing.

In some cases, a ligament can suffer a substantial tear or not heal on its own. In these instances, Dr. Saylor may suggest surgery to repair the damage and restore function in the area.

If you’ve suffered a sprain or want to see if you have, Dr. Saylor can help. He’ll give you a thorough examination and discuss your treatment options. To learn more, call 561-260-5993 to book an appointment with Orthopaedic Care Specialists today.

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