Wisconsin River Orthopaedic Institute - Health Library
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Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

Self-Care for Strains and SprainsEsguinces y torceduras: Autocuidado

Self-Care for Strains and Sprains

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A sprain injures ligaments (tissue that connects bones to bones).

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A strain injures muscles or tendons (tissue that connects muscles to bones).

Most minor strains and sprains can be treated with self-care. But if you have torn tissue or damaged blood vessels, nerves, or bones, be sure to call your doctor. Recovering from a strain or sprain may take 6-8 weeks. Your self-care goal is to reduce pain and immobilize the injury to speed healing.

Call Your Doctor If:

  • The injured joint won't move, or bones make a grating sound when they move.

  • You can't put weight on the injured area, even after 24 hours.

  • The injured body part is cold, blue, or numb.

  • The joint or limb appears bent or crooked.

  • Pain increases or doesn't improve in 4 days.

  • When pressing along the injured area, you notice a spot that is especially painful.

Support the Injured Area

Wrapping the injured area provides support for short, necessary activities. Be careful not to wrap the area too tightly. This could cut off the blood supply.

  • Support a wrist, elbow, or shoulder with a sling.

  • Wrap an ankle or knee with an elastic bandage.

  • Tape a finger or toe to the one next to it.

Use Cold and Heat

Cold reduces swelling. Both cold and heat reduce pain. When using cold or heat, always place a towel between the pack and your skin.

  • Apply ice or a cold pack 10-15 minutes every hour you're awake for the first 2 days.

  • After the swelling goes down, use cold or heat to control pain. Don't use heat late in the day, since it can cause swelling when you're not active.

Rest and Elevate

Rest and elevation help your injury heal faster.

  • Raise the injured area above your heart level.

  • Keep the injured area from moving.

  • Limit the use of the joint or limb.

Use Medications

  • Aspirin reduces pain and swelling. (Note: Don't give aspirin to a child 18 or younger unless prescribed by the doctor.)

  • Aspirin substitutes can reduce pain. Some substitutes reduce swelling, too. Ask your pharmacist which substitutes you can use.

Publication Source: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Online Source: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Date Last Reviewed: 2007-01-15T00:00:00-07:00

Date Last Modified: 2002-07-09T00:00:00-06:00

Self-Care for Strains and SprainsEsguinces y torceduras: Autocuidado

Self-Care for Strains and Sprains

Image
A sprain injures ligaments (tissue that connects bones to bones).

Image
A strain injures muscles or tendons (tissue that connects muscles to bones).

Most minor strains and sprains can be treated with self-care. But if you have torn tissue or damaged blood vessels, nerves, or bones, be sure to call your doctor. Recovering from a strain or sprain may take 6-8 weeks. Your self-care goal is to reduce pain and immobilize the injury to speed healing.

Call Your Doctor If:

  • The injured joint won't move, or bones make a grating sound when they move.

  • You can't put weight on the injured area, even after 24 hours.

  • The injured body part is cold, blue, or numb.

  • The joint or limb appears bent or crooked.

  • Pain increases or doesn't improve in 4 days.

  • When pressing along the injured area, you notice a spot that is especially painful.

Support the Injured Area

Wrapping the injured area provides support for short, necessary activities. Be careful not to wrap the area too tightly. This could cut off the blood supply.

  • Support a wrist, elbow, or shoulder with a sling.

  • Wrap an ankle or knee with an elastic bandage.

  • Tape a finger or toe to the one next to it.

Use Cold and Heat

Cold reduces swelling. Both cold and heat reduce pain. When using cold or heat, always place a towel between the pack and your skin.

  • Apply ice or a cold pack 10-15 minutes every hour you're awake for the first 2 days.

  • After the swelling goes down, use cold or heat to control pain. Don't use heat late in the day, since it can cause swelling when you're not active.

Rest and Elevate

Rest and elevation help your injury heal faster.

  • Raise the injured area above your heart level.

  • Keep the injured area from moving.

  • Limit the use of the joint or limb.

Use Medications

  • Aspirin reduces pain and swelling. (Note: Don't give aspirin to a child 18 or younger unless prescribed by the doctor.)

  • Aspirin substitutes can reduce pain. Some substitutes reduce swelling, too. Ask your pharmacist which substitutes you can use.

Publication Source: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Online Source: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Date Last Reviewed: 2007-01-15T00:00:00-07:00

Date Last Modified: 2002-07-09T00:00:00-06:00

Contact Wisconsin River Orthopaedic Institute at 715.424.1881 for your orthopaedic needs. For your convenience, you can fill out our online Request an Appointment form to book your consultation.

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For your orthopedic needs, contact Wisconsin River Orthopaedic Institute at 715.424.1881 . For your convenience, you can fill out our online Request an Appointment form to book your consultation. We...
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