A sprain is an injury that stretches or tears the ligaments that connect adjacent bones in a joint. Ligaments function to provide stability to the joint. Commonly observed symptoms include pain, bruising, swelling and inflammation. Immediately following an injury and before being evaluated by a medical doctor, you should initiate the R.I.C.E. (rest, ice application, compression and elevation of limb) method of treatment.
Sprains can be severe when ligaments completely tear or separate from the bone. In such cases you will not be able to use or bear weight on the injured joint, the joint will feel numb or unstable, or the injured area develops redness or red streaks indicating an infection. These situations require immediate medical assistance. Treatment of a major sprain involves immobilization or surgery, followed by physical therapy.
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