First aid: Sprain
Your ligaments are tough, elastic-like bands that connect bone to bone and hold your joints in place. A sprain is an injury to a ligament caused by tearing of the fibers of the ligament. The ligament can have a partial tear, or it can be completely torn apart.
Of all sprains, ankle and knee sprains occur most often. Sprained ligaments swell rapidly and are painful. Generally, the greater the pain and swelling, the more severe the injury is. For most minor sprains, you probably can treat the injury yourself.
Follow the instructions for R.I.C.E.
After two days, gently begin using the injured area. You should feel a gradual, progressive improvement. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), may be helpful to manage pain during the healing process.
See your doctor if your sprain isn't improving after two or three days.
Get emergency medical assistance if:
Last Updated: 2012-03-20
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