A sprain is a stretching or tearing of ligaments the tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect two bones together in your joints. The most common location for a sprain is in your ankle. Initial treatment includes rest, ice, compression and elevation. Mild sprains can be successfully treated at home. Severe sprains sometimes require surgery to repair torn ligaments.
- First degree sprain (mild) – the fibres of the ligament are stretched but intact.
- Second degree sprain (moderate) – is a tear of part of a ligament, from a third to almost all its fibres.
- Third degree sprain (severe)– is a complete rupture of the ligament, sometimes avulsing a piece of bone.
- Hearing or feeling a "pop" in your joint at the time of injury
- Limited ability to move the affected joint
A diagnosis of a sprain can often be made with a good degree of certainty by physical examination based on the clinical presentation and method of injury. In some cases, X-rays are obtained to ensure that there is no fracture. In some cases, particularly if the injury is prolonged or does not appear to be resolving as expected, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is performed to look at surrounding soft tissues and the ligament.
The first modality for a sprain can be remembered using the acronym RICE. The treatment of sprains depends on the extent of injury and the joint involved. Medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can relieve pain. Topical NSAIDs appear to be as good as those taken by mouth. Research suggest PRICE, as a way of managing an ankle sprain.
Journal of Pain Management and Therapy
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