What is a Sprain?

FROGS Physical Therapy

A sprain occurs within a joint when the ligament that is being stretched is asked to stretch beyond its ability. While sprained ankles are common, sprains can be experienced in joints all around the body. The wrist is another area when sprains are common. This type of injury can be very painful depending on the severity and the manner in which it was suffered. Physical therapy can be used to treat the sprain to both reduce the pain associated with the injury and also rehabilitate the joint so it can function properly once again.

There are a few common symptoms that will alert you to the presence of a sprain in one of your joints. Usually, pain is the first sign that a sprain has been suffered. For example, a sprained ankle will often be very painful immediately when it occurs. Stepping on an uneven surface and rolling your foot to the side can result in the ligament being overstretched and a painful sprain may result. The ankle often is where the most painful sprains occur because the entire body weight can end up pushing down on the joint during the injury, leading to maximum damage within the joint.

After the initial pain of the sprain occurring, the joint affected will usually experience swelling and some bruising. Also, if you have suffered a serious sprain, you may not be able to move the damaged joint as you can normally. Physical therapy is a great way to reduce the pain you are experiencing and return the proper range of motion to the joint so you can return to your normal physical capacity.


Different kinds of sprains

There are three degrees of sprains depending on the level of damage to the ligament. A first degree sprain only tears a small portion of the ligament fibers and will likely be recovered from in a short period of time. A second degree sprain includes tearing of a significant portion of the ligament, and will be a rather painful injury. The rehab for a second degree sprain can vary in time depending on the joint affected and the fitness level of the patient. A third degree sprain is a complete tear of the ligament and will almost always mean a long rehabilitation process to regain normal motion and relieve the pain.

Basic treatments for a sprain including resting the joint, elevating the area affected above your heart, icing the affected area, and applying compression to the joint as well. These are good treatments to undergo right away after an injury has occurred in an effort to reduce swelling and pain in the joint. Once a physical therapist has been able to assess the injury, a more comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation plan can be put into place. In more severe cases such as a third degree sprain, surgery may be required to repair the ligament before rehabilitation can begin. No matter the severity of the injury you may have suffered, quick treatment and the assistance of a physical therapist will give you the best chance at a quick and complete recovery.