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Sprains and strains

Sprains and strains are injuries to muscles or ligaments, the tissue connecting bones to other bones.

Symptoms of a sprain and a strain include pain and swelling around a joint, such as the ankle, wrist or thumb.

You can treat most sprains and strains with things like rest, ice and compression. Physiotherapy may help if it does not get better in a few weeks.

You can help reduce your risk of sprains and strains by warming up before exercising and not exercising too hard.

Read more on the NHS website.

Symptoms of a sprain and a strain include pain and swelling around a joint, such as the ankle, wrist or thumb.

Check if you have a sprain or strain

It's likely to be a sprain or strain if:

Read more on the NHS website.

You can treat most sprains and strains with things like rest, ice and compression. Physiotherapy may help if it does not get better in a few weeks.

Self-care

For the first couple of days, follow the 4 steps known as RICE therapy to help bring down swelling and support the injury:

  1. Rest – stop any exercise or activities and try not to put any weight on the injury.
  2. Ice – apply an ice pack (or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a tea towel) to the injury for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.
  3. Compression – wrap a bandage around the injury to support it.
  4. Elevate – keep it raised on a pillow as much as possible.

To help prevent swelling, try to avoid heat (such as hot baths and heat packs), alcohol and massages for the first couple of days.

When you can move the injured area without pain stopping you, try to keep moving it so the joint or muscle does not become stiff.

Medical treatments

If you have a sprain or strain that's taking longer than usual to get better, your GP may be able to refer you to a physiotherapist.

Physiotherapy from the NHS might not be available everywhere and waiting times can be long. You can also get it privately.

Read more on the NHS website.

You can help reduce your risk of sprains and strains by warming up before exercising and not exercising too hard.

Read more on the NHS website.