Sprain is a common injury that affects the ligaments of the bones. A ligament is very tough tissues that covers and supports the joint and attaches the bone together. An injury occurs when there is an overstretching of the ligaments that surrounds the bone and joints. There are mild tears of tissues of ligaments and joints. Torn ligaments sometimes losses their stabilizing ability thus cause blood vessels to swell. Ankle is the most common sprained part of the body. There are also some cases of sprain injury in thumb and wrist area.
There are 3 categories or degrees of sprain.
- 1st Degree – Mild sprain or mild stretching of ligaments, but there is no loss of function. Positive for mild pain and swelling.
- 2nd Degree – Moderate sprain with some ligament fibers are torn with certain degree of loss of function. Moderate pain is experienced and swelling of joints.
- 3rd Degree – There is a complete rupture or tears of soft tissues either from its attachment or within the ligament itself. Case of complete rupture needs a surgical intervention.
Strain is a “muscle pull” from overuse, overstretching or pulling of connective tissue called tendons. They maybe acute (e.g. occur during vigorous exercise without stretching the muscle first) or chronic (e.g. develop during repetitive injury of muscle and tendons). Symptoms include pain, swelling, tenderness and muscle cramping. The severity of strains is graded from 1 to 3.
- First-degree strain – it is least severe, involving stretching or pulling of muscle and tendon tissue. Mild pain is develop with minimal or no swelling of the injured part.
- Second-degree strain –it involves some tearing of muscle fibers. Pain is more severe and there is swelling and bruising of involved part.
- Third-degree strain – the most severe case, it involves the complete rupture of the involved structure resulting in a serious injury. There is severe pain and bruising with total loss of muscle function.
FIRST AID FOR ACUTE SPRAIN AND STRAIN
Management of acute sprains and strains needs to be applied for the first 48-72 hours. It helps to decrease the pain, lessened the swelling and prevents further injury. The following steps are applied to treat mild sprain and strain.
Rest and protect the injured part as much as possible. Minimal movement of the injured part is advised.
Ice or cold compress is applied for 15 to 20 minutes to decrease swelling and reduce pain.
Compression of the affected part is applied using an elastic bandage. It helps to reduce edema and support the injured tissue.
Elevate the injured extremity above the head to minimize swelling.
In case of severe sprain and strain, it is highly recommended to consult a doctor. It may require further evaluation thru X-Ray and surgical repair or intervention of a medical specialist.