Sprains and Strains

A sprain is the wrenching or tearing of the ligaments and tissues round a joint. A strain is the overstretching of a muscle. This is invariably associated with some tearing of muscle fibres. When the capsule or sheath of muscle is involved, the muscle is said to be ruptured.

Signs & Symptoms of Sprain

  1. Pain at the joint
  2. Inability to use the joint without increasing pain
  3. Swelling and later bruising.

Signs & Symptoms of Strain

  1. There is a sudden, sharp pain at the site of injury
  2. In the case of a limb, the muscles may swell and cause severe cramps. If the back is affected, the casualty may be unable to stand upright

First Aid Treatment

  1. Let the patient rest the injured part in the most comfortable position, slightly raised if possible.
  2. Cover the affected area with a cold compress for approximately 30 minutes.
  3. Then remove the compress and cover it with a thick pad.
  4. The strain or sprain needs rest and support in the form of firm bandage. Start well below the damaged joint and firmly wrap a bandage around it, leaving strips of padding visible. An elastic bandage is best, but it should not be tight as it may damage the underlying nerves and blood vessels. If any part of the limb becomes cold, numb or puffy, after application of bandage, it means it is too tight.
  5. If pain is severe, but there is clearly no other injury, the patient can take paracetamol. If the pain seams too severe and in all doubtful cases, treat the patient as fracture, until X-Ray results are available.

Sprains and strains can be quite a nagging problem. Some-times ligament damage takes months to heal. Bandaging supports the injured area and reduces pain, but movement is still very limited. Several days may elapse before normal activity can be resumed. One must check with the doctor before doing anything strenuous.