How to Treat Strains and Sprains
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How to Treat Strains and Sprains

Strains and sprains are two of the most common injuries that people encounter, and by following these simple first aid tips you can lessen the pain and discomfort from these injuries while also preventing further injury to yourself. Weekend warriors often overdo it on the softball field or out playing ultimate frisbee and end up with an unwanted injury. As with every injury, prevention is the best approach, so be sure that you have stretched prior to joining any physical activity. Maintaining a high level of fitness will make you less likely to be injured, and weekend activities are a lot more fun when the injuries are kept to a minimum.

The easiest way to treat, and remember the proper first aid, is to follow the RICE protocol. This stands for Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. Don’t try to tough it out if you injure your ankle or other areas of your body. Get off your feet immediately and rest the injured area. Add ice to the sore spot while also applying pressure. Keep the injury elevate to lessen blood flow and swelling. Never apply ice directly to the skin, and apply it for only 20 minutes of each hour. Toes and fingers can be splinted by taping them to an adjacent digit for support. To increase compression, utilize an ace bandage or tightly wrap a tee shirt around the affected area.

Over the counter anti-inflammatories are very effective treatment for sprains and strains and should be taken immediately. Advil or any other ibuprofen will help to reduce swelling and pain. RICE can be effective for 24-48 hours or up until the time you visit your doctor if that is necessary. Remember to remove the ice after 20 minutes and never apply it to the skin directly.

You should seek immediate medical attention if you hear a pop at the time of the injury or you are unable to move the finger or toe as these are signs of a broken bone. Ankles and shoulders should also be checked by a doctor after any injury as they are complex and important areas of the body. Numbness is another sign of a more serious issue and should be addressed immediately. Fever, severe swelling, and any open cuts indicate that the injury may be more serious than a simple strain or sprain and should be attended to as soon as possible.

Typical strains and sprains will improve on their own, but if you are even the slightest bit concerned that the injury may be more serious, have it checked out by your doctor. By implementing the RICE protocol right away, you will decrease swelling and minimize the discomfort of your injury. You may have to join the cheering squad and sit out the next couple of games, but avoiding serious injury is more important than bragging rights on Monday at the office! Strains and sprains are often part of physical activity and when you work to avoid them you will also help to minimize their severity when sprains occur.