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Sprain - Effective Tips To Prevent It!

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Anup Dutta 87% (10 ratings)
MBBS, Certificate Course In Rheumatology, MD - Anaesthesiology
Pain Management Specialist, Guwahati  •  18 years experience
Sprain - Effective Tips To Prevent It!

The joints and bones of the body are connected by fibrous band of tissue called as a ligament. When these ligaments are over stretched or are subjected to any injury that could cause tearing of the ligament and a sprain of the ligament happens. Sprains usually occur at the ankle joint, knee joint or the shoulder, since these areas have a connection of bones at a joint.

During movement, the ligament functions to stretch or expand and move back to its original position. However, sometimes due to an over-stretch of the ligament, it gets pushed or expands beyond its usual position. A sudden twisting movement of the ligament can also cause a sprain.

While walking, any abnormal movement of the leg can cause a sprain, hence, the ankle joint is the most common location affected by a sprain. Sports injuries are a common causative factor of sprains. In accordance to the body part involved frequently in playing sports, a wrist sprain or an ankle sprain is a common finding.

Dancers are also prone to frequently sprain their ligaments. If a sprain occurs at the wrist joint, it can also lead to cause the Carpal tunnel syndrome, which leads to the numbness of the wrist joint. Moderate to severe pain around the affected joint, presence of bruising in cases of an injury, swelling around the affected joint and difficulty in movement are the common symptoms of a sprain.

There can be a popping sound heard during an injury to the joint, which indicates a sprain. Sprain of the joint can cause other complications too. If there is an involvement of the nerve in the injury, there can be an associated numbness and tingling sensation at the affected area. A physician performs physical inspection of the area while looking for the symptoms of sprain. If the injury involves a larger surface area and is causing severe pain, an MRI or X-ray can be ordered to detect for the ligament or bone involvement, respectively.

Classification of sprain can be enlisted as follows:

  • Grade 1 sprain (mild): Slight stretching and little damage to the fibers of the ligament.
  • Grade 2 sprain (moderate): Includes partial tearing of the ligament. 
  • Grade 3 sprain (severe): Includes complete tearing of the ligament.  Prevention of a sprain can be achieved with certain measures. Specific exercises that can be targeted for sprain prevention can be learnt from the physical therapist.

Stretching exercises and muscle training are important in prevention of a sprain. Sprain preventing measures are as follows:

1. Before beginning an exercise routine, it is essential to do warm up exercises. Slight jogging can be done to activate muscle movement.

2. Stretching before and after an exercise routine is necessary. It ensures that the muscles around the joint are in a relaxed position. It helps in minimizing the risk of an injury.

3. Some specific exercises that help to strengthen the muscles around ankles should be done. Heel raise exercise is beneficial in strengthening the ankle muscles.

4. Exercises that target the improvement of overall body’s balance should be done on a regular basis. These exercises help in preventing twisting of ankles during walking or moving down the stairs.

5. In case of a previous ankle injury, it is recommended to wear an ankle brace to prevent any twisting caused by a dis-balance.

Treatment of the sprain is done by following the RICE procedure. This procedure includes the protocol of rest, ice, compression and elevation. Analgesics can be taken for pain relief. Ice pack application helps in reducing the swelling. Using a compression bandage helps in immobilizing the injury.

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