Spring is here, or so it seems, and there’s no mask mandate and we’re starting to get out. Many of us will overdo it and suffer a sprain or a strain. It can be a very painful situation. These injuries can happen to people of all ages. While these injuries can be very painful, they are not life-threatening. But they can make your daily life difficult. We should never take them for granted. These injuries can become serious problems and then become life-threatening.
Your body’s muscles are soft tissue. Your body has over 600 muscles that are attached to your bones by tissue called tendons. Your bones are hard, dense, strong and rigid. You have over 200 bones that help to support your body. Your bones are connected with ligaments.
Sprains and strains occur when the force of impact that is greater than your body part can withstand. Sometimes, overuse injuries can degrade tissues and joints and set the stage for a sprain or strain.
A sprain is when you tear a ligament at a joint. A mild sprain can have swelling but most of the time it will heal very quickly. You shouldn’t take a mild sprain for granted because if you ignore it and rush back to activity before you heal could lead to a weaker bone and ligaments that can lead to a more severe injury. A severe sprain can involve a fracture or a dislocation of a bone at your joint.
A strain is a stretching or tearing of a muscle or tendon. You may experience strains because you lift something too heavy or you work a muscle too hard. Strains in the neck and back can be reoccurring health issues.
To remember what to do if you have a strain or sprain is RICED.
RICED is an acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and Doctor. I added the “D.”
Rest. Don’t use the injured part. Using an injured body part will only aggravate the injury. When all the swelling, discoloration, pain or tenderness has completely subsided and lost strength has been recovered, it should be safe to exercise.
Ice. Apply ice to the injured area as soon as possible. If you can apply ice in the first 10 minutes, you can significantly reduce recovery time. Cold constricts blood vessels and this will help limit internal bleeding, prevent some swelling and help control pain. Ice can also help limit the potential severity of your injury.
Compression. Rapping or gently compressing the area with massage will give support, help to reduce swelling and discoloration and prevent tissue separation at the site of the injury.
Elevation. Elevating an injured area also helps to reduce swelling, along with the reduction of pain and discoloration.
Continue RICE for 24 to 48 hours, or until you see your doctor.
Not all minor strains and sprains need to be evaluated by your doctor but if your symptoms don’t diminish or they don’t go away you should see your doctor.
You should go to the doctor if:
If the injured area is painful to the touch
If there is significant bruising and swelling
If there is significant deformity
You can’t use the injured part of your body
Bone is sticking out of your skin
If you heard a snap or pop at the time of your injury
Your injured area is cold, numb or tingly
The cause of your injury suggest that it severe
Your injury involved your head, neck or spine
You have trouble breathing
Some severe injuries may not need a 911 call. A broken finger, broken toe or a sprained ankle are examples of injuries that don’t require a 911 call. If you decide to transport an injured person you should have someone else drive so you can keep an eye on the injured person. If the injury is to the neck, pelvis, hip or thigh you should call 911.
Sprains and strains can take a few days to a year to recover. You should strive for a gradual, progressive improvement of your injury. You should try to restore your strength and stability to your injured body part before you return to your sport, fitness activity or work. A professional can help provide you with strength and stability exercises to help you heal and minimize the risk of a repeat injury.
You are involved in a motor vehicle accident
You are injured because of fall was greater than their height
You safety helmet was broken during your accident
The victim is not fully alert
The victim is younger than 3 years old
If the victim appears frail or is older than 65 years old
Victim complains of a neck or back pain
Has tingling or weakness in their extremities
You can help to prevent sprains and strains strengthening muscles around your joints. Regular exercise can also can build a strong skeletal framework and help prevent injuries.
If you have a fitness question or concern, write to “Tips to be Fit,” PO Box 53443, Philadelphia, PA 19105 or send an email to email@example.com. Past articles can be found at www.phillytrib.com by searching “Tips to be Fit.”