A physically active lifestyle offers numerous benefits, including better cardiovascular fitness, healthy body weight, management of chronic illnesses like diabetes and arthritis, and improved bone health and muscular fitness. However, like the cliché statement that every action attracts an adverse reaction, physical activity has its fair share of risks, including injuries or sprains.
Some common body injuries while engaging in various levels of physical activity or active sports include wrist, knee, and ankle injuries. The most common injuries are bruises, strains, and sprains, and this article focuses on the latter.
A sprain is an acute soft tissue injury when ligaments get torn or stretched excessively. Ligaments are tough fibrous tissues made of collagen that connect the bones and form the different joints found in human bodies. Therefore, sprains are joint injuries, with ankles taking the giant share of most sprain injuries.
It’s also important to note that sprains are often confused with strains. However, they’re distinctly different because the former are injuries to the ligaments in a joint, while the latter are injuries to the muscles.
Causes Of Sprains
Again, sprains are joint injuries, and everyone, young or old, is at risk of getting a sprain. Sprains are caused by direct or indirect injury, and certain situations increase your risk of getting a sprain, including:
- Engaging in intense physical activity on wet or uneven surfaces
- Being overweight or in poor physical condition
- Participating in intense physical activity when your muscles are tired
- Having a history of sprain injuries
Types Of Sprains
Like with other injuries, sprains can be mild, moderate, or severe. A severe sprain involving a complete tear of the ligament can be incapacitating, necessitating the application of a sugar tong splint. Usually, the extent of a sprain injury is determined by its grade, and there are three grades of sprains:
- First-degree Sprain
Considered the mildest sprain injury, a first-degree sprain causes minimal tissue damage, and, in most cases, full recovery only takes one week. First-degree sprains are treated at home by allowing the injured part, usually the leg, time to rest, icing it, and keeping it elevated.
- Second-degree Sprain
It’s considered a moderate sprain, and it happens when there’s damage to one or more ligaments. Some notable symptoms include swelling and bruising. On average, second-degree sprains usually take a month to heal completely and may need to be evaluated by a physician.
- Third-degree sprain
A completely torn ligament is a third-degree sprain. It’s usually painful and takes the longest to heal, sometimes up to three months. Third-degree sprains also cause significant swelling and bruising. With third-degree sprains, a visit to your physician is almost inevitable.
In addition, three different types of sprains usually cause the above varying grades of sprains:
- Inversion Sprains
These sprains usually happen when one is walking or running on uneven ground, and the foot is forced inwards and rolls onto the ankle. The pain from an inversion sprain comes suddenly and is felt on the outer side of the ankle. There’s also notable inflammation just below the ankle joint.
- Eversion Sprains
These sprains are the opposite of inversion ones, but they’re rare. They happen when the deltoid ligaments found inside the ankle get torn when the ankle rolls inwards or everts.
- High-ankle Sprains
These sprains happen when high ankle ligaments that connect the tibia and fibula bones are torn or damaged. High ankle sprains don’t affect the joints and are therefore commonly referred to as syndesmotic injuries. High ankle sprains are rare, although they’re usually seen in people who play games like soccer, hockey, and wrestling.
Treatment Of Sprains
Sprains are soft tissue injuries that usually follow the PRICE treatment method, which stands for prevention, rest, ice, compression, and elevate, in the first 24–48 hours.
- Prevention:It includes protective measures to lower your risk for sprain injuries, including wearing protective footwear and shoes with a perfect fit, warming up before engaging in active sports, and allowing your muscles to recover by slotting a rest day.
- Rest:Completely cutting back on physical activity is recommended to allow the injured area to rest and heal. Sugar tong splints come in handy for rest as they immobilize the injured area.
- Ice:Applying ice packs to the injured area helps reduce inflammation. To avoid frostbite, ice packs should not be applied for longer than 20 minutes at a go.
- Compression:Applying continuous pressure to the injured helps reduce swelling.
- Elevate:Keeping the injured area raised above the heart level while resting on a soft item like a pillow helps reduce swelling as well.
It’s recommended to seek medical attention for severe sprains.
Daily routines such as playing, walking, and riding a bike to school or work expose us to falls and accidents that can result in various forms of injuries. An emergency first aid kit containing splints, bleed kits, and chest seals, enables you to respond immediately to emergencies and injuries before help arrives. You might want to consider sourcing your emergency first aid kit items from a reputable medical solutions company.