How to Heal a Sprain

A sprain is a tear, strain, or overstretching of a ligament (a tough band of elastic tissue that joins bony ends at a joint). It occurs due to a sudden movement, fall, blow or a strong torsion of the same, which makes it exceed its normal amplitude. It is also called a “sprain” in common parlance.

Types of Sprain

  • Grade I or benign sprain:
    It is a distension of the ligament. This one is intact but has been stretched beyond its capabilities. There may be swelling and pain, but it is distinguished from more severe degrees in that there is no bruising, since the ligament has not been torn.
  • Grade II or moderate sprain:
    On this occasion there has been a tear in the ligament, so there is bruising and inflammation.
  • Grade III or severe sprain:
    The ligament has been completely torn. There is bruising and swelling. This severe sprain may hurt less than a moderate or mild one, so don’t be too confident. If there is a hematoma, it is because the ligament has been torn, and it will be necessary to go to the traumatologist for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

The treatment, whatever the severity, is always conservative, that is, it is treated with immobilization with bandages (grades I and II) and even plaster  in the most serious sprains. In very specific cases, surgery is used.

Common Sprain Symptoms

1) Very sharp pain that prevents walking.

2) After half an hour the pain subsides and allows walking.

3) At 24 hours, the pain increases sharply, preventing night rest, due to an increase in inflammation.

In general, if the pain does not follow this evolution, there could be another injury apart from the sprain.

How to Act

  1. Rest: It is necessary to avoid supporting the foot under load in the first days or weeks (depending on severity).
  2. Immediate ice: 20 minutes every 3-6 hours.
  3. Elevation of the legto 45º above the horizontal.
  4. Compressionthrough a bandage performed by a physiotherapist or qualified personnel.

To return to sports, it is generally recommended that there be no or minimal swelling or pain. If the pain is minimal, it is best to put a bandage to better secure the affected area. In more severe sprains it is a good idea to protect the ankle with an ankle brace or brace to reduce the chance of further sprains. Take into account the recommendations of your doctor.