Most mild to moderate sprains and strains can be treated at home using the PRICE technique.
Self care tips:
- PRICE stands for
- Protection – protect the injured area from further injury, by using a support or, in the case of an ankle injury, wearing shoes that enclose and support your feet, such as lace-ups.
- Rest – stop the activity that caused the injury, and rest the injured joint or muscle. Avoid activity for the first 48 to 72 hours after injuring yourself. Your doctor may recommend you use crutches.
- Ice – for the first 48 to 72 hours after the injury, apply ice wrapped in a damp towel to the injured area for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours during the day. Do not leave the ice on while you are asleep, and do not allow the ice to touch your skin directly because it could cause a cold burn.
- Compression – compress or bandage the injured area to limit any swelling and movement that could damage it further. You can use a crepe bandage or a simple elastic bandage available from a pharmacy. It should be wrapped snugly around the affected area but not so tightly that it restricts blood flow. Remove the bandage before you go to sleep.
- Elevation – keep the injured area raised and supported on a pillow to help reduce swelling. If your leg is injured, avoid having long periods of time where your leg is not raised.
- For the first 72 hours after a sprain or muscle strain avoid HARM– you should avoid Heat, such as hot baths, heat packs, Alcohol as it increases bleeding and swelling and delays healing, Running or any form of exercise and Massage which may also increase bleeding and swelling.
- Try to stay mobile with a sprained joint, unless you have a severe ankle sprain. This is because the injury will heal quicker if you move the joint as soon as you’re able to.
- If you feel pain from a strain or sprain, use paracetamol in the first instance. If paracetamol doesn’t help, stronger painkillers available only on prescription, may be needed.
The length of time of recovery from a sprain or a strain will depend on the severity of the injury. Seek immediate medical treatment if your joint looks different, is difficult or impossible to move, or you feel numbness or tingling.