Sprains and Strains Treatment
1. Control Swelling With RICE Therapy
- Rest the sprained or strained area. If necessary, use a sling for an arm injury or crutches for a leg or foot injury. Splint an injured finger or toe by taping it to an adjacent finger or toe.
- Ice for 20 minutes every hour.
- Compress by wrapping an elastic (Ace) bandage or sleeve lightly (not tightly) around the joint or limb.
- Elevate the area above heart level.
2. Manage Pain and Inflammation
- Give an over-the-counter NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or aspirin. Do not give aspirin to anyone under age 18.
3. See a Health Care Provider
All but the most minor strains and sprains should be evaluated by a health care provider. Consult a health care provider as soon as possible if there are symptoms of a possible broken bone:
- There is a "popping" sound with the injury.
- The person can't move the injured joint or limb.
- The limb buckles when the injured joint is used.
- There is significant swelling, pain, fever, or open cuts.
4. Follow Up
- Continue RICE for 24 to 48 hours, or until the person sees a health care provider.
- The health care provider may want to do X-rays or an MRI to diagnose a severe sprain or strain or rule out a broken bone.
- The health care provider may need to immobilize the limb or joint with a splint, cast, or other device until healing is complete.
- In severe cases, surgery may be needed.