Treating Those Sprains and Strains

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Treating Sprains or Strains

Following on from our previous blog on the difference between sprains and strains, which can be found here, let’s take a look at what treatment you would need if you do happen to sprain or strain something.

Mild sprains and strains may need rehabilitation exercises and a change or reduction in activity during recovery. A physiotherapist should evaluate the injury and establish a treatment and rehabilitation plan if needed. It is always better to check whether rehab is required even for a mild sprain, as ankles in particular can be vulnerable to repetitive sprains if they are not properly re-strengthened. A severe sprain or strain may need surgery or immobilisation, and then certainly should be followed by physiotherapy in order to minimise the risk of the risk of recurrence.

First things first. As soon as possible after the injury has occured, protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation (helpfully referred to by the acronym PRICE) usually will help minimize damage caused by sprains and strains. The sooner it is started, the better the outcome.

The body will respond in a set pattern to an injury and the resulting inflammation of the tissues. The aim of using PRICE is to relieve pain, limit swelling, and speed up the inflammation and healing process as much as possible. If a break is suspected, then medical attention and an x-ray should always be used to confirm this.

The PRICE process is as follows:

  • P stands for Protection Protect not just the injury but all of the injured person – and yourself – from any further danger. If the injured patient can move, then move them to a safe place. If the injury is a neck or back injury, seek medical advice before moving them. Try and splint a joint or stop any weight bearing on the injured limb to protect it. Of course, if there is a wound, this needs to be protected from infection.
  • R stands for Rest – The injured part of the body should be immobilised as much as possible so that the healing process can start.
  • I stands for Ice – This is to try and reduce swelling and inflammation which causes pain. The injured area should have an ice pack pressed gently over it – if using ice make sure it is wrapped in a bag or cloth to prevent burning of skin. Repeat this three or four times a day.
  • C stands for Compression – An elastic bandage can help to reduce the swelling or stop it before it starts if applied quickly enough. The injured area should be compressed but not so much that the bandage will cut off the blood supply.
  • E stands for Elevation The injured area should be raised above the level of the heart if at all possible whilst it is being rested.

Doing all five actions listed above simultaneously will give the best chance of speeding up the healing process so that the rehabilitation process and return to sport or normal life can begin.

If you have any questions, please contact G4 Physiotherapy & Fitness Didsbury, Manchester by calling 0161 445 5133 or emailing

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