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  » First Aid  »  Sprains
A sprain is an injury to the ligaments—the fibrous tissue connecting the bones at the joints. A sprain may be relatively mild or quite severe, depending on how badly the joint was wrenched and whether the ligaments were only stretched or were torn.

SYMPTOMS

Same as for a fracture, except for misalignment and deformity. A serious sprain cannot be readily distinguished from a fracture without medical evaluation of the injury.

TREATMENT

For a serious sprain, treatment is the same as for a fracture. For less serious, less painful sprains:
  • Start with RICE-Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Do not let the victim use the injured body part.
  • Apply an ice pack and mild compression with an elastic bandage to the injured part for several hours to keep swelling down.
  • Keep the sprain elevated, using pillows or a sling.
  • After the first 24 hours, heat may be applied. The injured part should not be used until pain and swelling subside, usually within a couple of days.
  • Apply an elastic bandage properly to provide support and immobilization without excessive compression.
  • If there is swelling, discoloration, or deformity, consult a doctor.