Sprains occur when the fibers of a ligament tear – either partially or completely. Sprained ligaments often swell rapidly and can be very painful. The greater the swelling and pain, the more severe a sprain is likely to be.
To treat mild to moderate sprains at home, use the RICE method:
As swelling and pain improve, gently begin to use the injured area. Over-the-counter pain medications are helpful in recovery. Restoring strength and mobility to the area before engaging in fitness or sports activities is important – consider seeing a physical therapist or sports medicine provider.
Seek emergency medical care if you are unable to bear weight on the injured limb or can’t use a joint, develop redness or streaks around the area, or have pain directly over the bones of an injured joint.