Both strains and sprains are really common. In fact, about 25,000 people sprain an ankle each day. Both injuries have some common symptoms like pain, swelling and limited movement, but they’re different. Thankfully, treating both kinds of injury takes the same, simple approach.
Strains = muscle injuries, as in a stretched or torn muscle/tendon
Sprains = ligament injuries, as in a stretched or torn ligament that connects bones at a joint.
How to treat strains and sprains
Remember to RICE for 1 to 2 days
Rest: Try to limit your activity on your injured area so it can recover.
Ice: Use a covered ice pack for no more than 20 minutes at a time, 4 to 8 times a day to avoid frost bite.
Compress: Use elastic wraps, air casts or splints or your own choice of wrap to apply gentle pressure to your injury. This can also help reduce swelling.
Elevate: Keep your injury raised above your heart with something soft like a pillow to reduce swelling.
Get relief from medication
Thankfully, the pain from strains and sprains can be managed. Try an over-the-counter pain reliever like Extra Strength TYLENOL®.
Get back to it
After 2 or 3 days, try gentle movement or mild exercises to start using your injured area and get back to your normal routine. Talk to your doctor before beginning or revising any exercise regimen.
Talk to your doctor
As always, if something seems amiss or you’re in severe pain, contact your family doctor. He or she can help figure out if it’s serious and come up with a plan to treat your injury.
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