Have you sprained your ankle? Do you know how long does a sprain take to heal & what are its home remedies? Read the following for more on sprains
Any damage caused to one or more ligaments in a joint is known as a ligament tear or a sprain.1 The degree of severity of the sprain ranges from a small, minor injury which heals in a few days to a major rupture of a single or multiple ligaments which may require surgical fixation and a significant period of immobilization. Sprains can occur in any joint of the body but the ones that are most commonly found to get affected are the ankle and wrist.
Signs and symptoms of a sprain are swelling, pain and bruising in the joint, difficulty in using the extremities and reduced mobility of the limb. In case of a ligament rupture, a popping sound is heard this signals the occurrence of a sprain. Sprains occur often when the joints are stretched beyond their functional range of motion. Certain factors like sudden start of exercise after a long sedentary lifestyle and fatigue of muscles can result in sprains. Missing their warming up before engaging in any athletic activity has found to be a common cause of sprain in athletes.
A sprain can be easily diagnosed by physical examinations based on the method of injury and clinical presentation. X rays and MRI’s can also indicate sprains with a good degree of certainty.
How Long Does a Sprain Take to Heal?
The goal of most treatments administered in case of a sprain is to help the patient return to their level of function from before the injury. The part of the body that is injured and the severity of the sprain determines the duration of recovery.1 The most essential therapy for all kinds of injuries or sprain is giving sufficient time for the injury to heal and recover. A formal physical training program and even a home exercise program can prove extremely effective in rehabilitating an injury. It should be remembered by the patient that rehabilitating any injury and repairing the body takes time and efforts.
It can take weeks for sprains to get healed completely. However, the patient can return to normal activity in a much shorter time. Most minor muscle strains fix themselves in a few days allowing the injured person to return to full activity quite quickly. However, the muscle might not get fully healed and thus will be less capable of withstanding excessive stress. It will still be very prone to recurrent injury in future. In special situations, certain muscle strains take longer time to heal than others owing to their function and location. Like sprained muscles, sprained joints may become functional in some of weeks while some cases might take months to heal completely and regain their full strength and stability.
Home Remedies for Sprain
Prolonged inactivity retards the healing process of the sprain as the immobilization generally leads to stiff joints and muscle atrophy. The most vital components of an effective rehabilitation program for all kinds of sprain injuries include progressive muscles strengthening exercise and increasing the range of motion. Simple home remedies can also help to bring considerable relief to people with a sprained joint or muscle. The RICE approach is one such ideal way to treat sprains at home. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
Rest – One needs to rest sufficiently post an injury and avoid activities that can cause discomfort, swelling or pain in the affected joints and muscles. Rest can be an effective home remedy to heal the sprain. However, they should not avoid or stop all forms of physical activities. Even with a sprain one can still exercise the uninjured joints and muscles to keep them active and prevent deconditioning.
Ice – When swelling appears after sustaining a sprain, one should immediately apply ice on the swollen area using an icepack. A thin cloth should always be kept between the skin and the ice. The ice pack should be pressed firmly against all the curves of the affected region for about 10 to 20 minutes and this process should be repeated once in every hour or two. This regime of ice pack compression should be carried on for the first few days after the injury. Cold reduces the swelling, pain and inflammation in the injured joints, muscles and connective tissues and also slows the bleeding from torn ligaments. Slush bath of ice and water also proves effective in reducing the swelling. One should stop applying the ice compression if the iced area starts turning white as this may indicate formation of frostbite. People suffering from decreased sensation, diabetes or any vascular disease should consult their doctor before applying ice compression on the sprained area.
Compression – An elastic compression wrap can be an effective home remedy to help reduce the swelling considerably on the sprained joint. The swollen area must be wrapped in the elastic bandage until the swelling stops. The area should not be wrapped too tightly as this could restrict normal blood circulation in the region. One should begin wrapping at the end farthest from the heart. If more pain or increased swelling below the wrap or numbness is felt in the swollen region after bandaging, the wrap should be loosened immediately. The elastic wrap should be worn for the initial 24 to 36 hours. No protection is offered by these compression wraps and hence one should always wear braces to guard the sprained muscle or joint effectively.
Elevation – The patient must elevate or raise the injured area above the level of their heart, especially at night, or for 2 to 3 hours during the day if feasible. This allows gravity to help decrease swelling and bruising naturally.
Administration of the appropriate treatment at the right time can ensure speedy recovery from sprain. With proper medication, exercise and the above mentioned simple home remedies, one can effectively relieve the pain and discomfort caused by sprain to a great extent.