When going about our day-to-day lives, there’s always a risk of accidents happening. Tripping, falling, and getting injured—these things can catch you unaware at any point in time. Sprains and strains are common injuries, even for people who aren’t physically active.
The nature of your treatment and length of recovery will depend largely on the severity of your injury. Upon diagnosing the nature and severity of an injury, there are three methods by which your orthopedic doctor may treat it.
Most cases of sprains and strains respond well to the PRICE method. Your orthopedic doctor will guide you through this five-step process, which you can accomplish at home:
Avoid putting weight on or using the injured body part. Preventing any further motion will help the injury heal and restore alignment. You may use a brace, splint, or crutches to limit the pressure put on the affected area. Your orthopedic doctor may also ask you to use elastic bandages to decrease swelling and support the immobilized body part.
Post-injury, try to take a break from physical activities. As much as possible, don’t move around too much. However, while you may need to lay off strenuous activities, total unuse of the injured area may lead to your joints and muscles becoming stiff. After about two days, gently begin to mobilize the injured body part.
Apply an ice pack to the injured area in 10 minutes intervals several times a day. You may use an ice pack or wrap ice with a towel. Remember not to apply ice for longer than 20 minutes as it could cause frostbite or a cold injury. Once you start to feel numb or uncomfortable, stop icing.
Compression will help minimize swelling around the affected area. Using a bandage, start wrapping from the extremities towards the center of your body. If your strain is in the upper body, begin from the fingers towards the shoulder. Otherwise, start from the toes to the groin. Make sure that the bandage fits snugly but doesn’t cut off circulation.
Doctors recommend elevation to decrease swelling because it directs fluids away from the injured area. You can easily do this at home by propping the affected area on a pillow. Try to keep the injured body part above your heart level.
Over-the-counter medicines can also help reduce pain. When you begin to use the injured area after two days, you should notice gradual improvements in its ability to support your weight or move without pain. Most mild sprains and strains require a few weeks to heal. During this time, you can take pain relievers to help with symptoms.
Immobilization And Surgery
More severe sprains and strains, such as ligament tears, may require total immobilization. In such cases, your doctor may put the injured area in a cast to prevent any movement. Rare cases require surgery.
The following symptoms indicate damaged or torn ligaments, tendons, or muscles:
- Pain when walking or standing
- Reduced ability to move or flex the affected body part
- Numbness or tingling around the injured area
Your orthopedic doctor will assess these symptoms to determine if the injury is worse than a moderate sprain or strain. If it is, your doctor will assess the risks and benefits of a surgical procedure. They will recommend the best treatment option considering your age, activity level, and surgical risk factors.
You can expect severe sprains to take up to 12 weeks to recover. In particular, surgical repairs of torn ligaments have the longest recovery period. This time includes the healing phase and post-operative plan for a gradual return to physical activities.
Orthopedic doctors often recommend physical therapy for patients who sustain sprains or strains. You can do this either post-surgery or after applying the PRICE method. Prolonged inactivity may cause your muscles to weaken. Physical therapy helps to regain strength and mobility. In addition, it reduces the chance of a repeat injury.
Your physical therapist will ask you to perform a wide range of movements to prevent the injured area from becoming stiff. They will increase the intensity of your exercises over time until you are back at a pre-injury level of activity.
Orthopedic In San Antonio, TX
You can avoid sprains and strains by wearing appropriate shoes and warming up and stretching before strenuous physical activities. When they do occur, make sure to consult with an orthopedic doctor. They can help you properly treat the injured area.
Are you searching for an orthopedic doctor near you? Look no further than the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine. Our orthopedic doctors can provide the best and most comprehensive orthopedic care for your sprains and strains. We can help you regain the strength and mobility you had post-injury, so you can live your life to the fullest.
To schedule an appointment, call us today at (210) 692-7400 or fill out our online request form. We look forward to serving you!