Sprains & Strains
Consult your healthcare professional if:
- The pain, swelling, or stiffness does not improve in two to three days
- You can't move or bear weight on an injured joint
- The bones are not aligned properly
Sprains are the tearing of ligaments, the tissues that connect bones to one another at the joint. They are characterised by pain, swelling and difficulty moving the joint, and most commonly affect ankles, wrists and thumbs.
A strain is caused by damage to muscle tissue due to stretching or tearing. Strains are accompanied by sharp pain at the time of the injury, followed by stiffness, tenderness, and sometimes swelling. Groin strain is particularly common, especially amongst athlete
The most common form of sports injury is sudden excessive tension on a tendon, producing a strain or sprain. Common causes of sprains and strains are:
- Any accident or occurrence that stresses the joints or muscles beyond their normal tolerance
- A new sport or activity
- Lifting heavy objects
- Being overweight
- Repeated muscle contraction, can result in injury.
These injuries usually heal themselves in 2-3 weeks, however the more severe injuries may require surgical repair, which may weaken the muscles or bones and make them susceptible to further injury in the future.
Treatment should commence as soon as possible following the injury, with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE).
In the longer term, the aim of treatment is to relieve the pain and reduce the swelling. You will need to rest the area as much as possible, and may need to use support bandages or crutches to reduce the pressure on the area. Massage with a suitable relief medication provides comfort during the healing period.
- Vitamin C and bioflavonoids which may assist with the reduction of inflammation and stabilisation of the connective tissue
- Glucosamine sulfate is of benefit for the treatment of joint injuries, particularly those that involve cartilage
- Magnesium may help to relieve muscular pain
Life Style Factors
Be sure your injury is completely healed before returning to your full activity levels, particularly if you play contact sport. The pain and inflammation of sprains and strains are your body's way of letting you know that it has not fully healed yet.
Always stretch and warm up before exercising or lifting heavy or bulky objects.
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