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What should I know about caring for someone with a sprain?

When caring for someone with a sprain, it's important to help that person do all they can to allow their ligaments to heal. This may include icing the injured area for 15 minutes every few hours, wrapping the joint in an elastic bandage or brace to reduce swelling, and keeping the joint elevated. The most important thing you can do is encourage the person to rest and stay off the joint while it still hurts. Encourage them to use crutches for a few weeks if necessary. If the sprain is severe, help the person get medical advice from a doctor for further treatment.

Always follow the doctor’s instructions. Sprains are normally graded 1-3 depending on severity. Understanding the severity of the injury will help on how to care for the person. If the area is mobilized and the use of crutches is indicated then make sure you follow the guidelines. This will allow the ligament to heal properly. Normally the area can be swollen with bruising surrounding the joint. If able rest, ice, compression and elevation of the area is the way to go. I recommend icing for at least 15-20 minutes with a minimum of 40 minutes in between treatments a couple of times per day. **If you have diabetes, circulation problems or any other medical problems please consult your physician before applying ice.**

Often times physicians will recommend physical therapy to work on strengthening the surrounding area to help support the ligament. Follow the instructions of the physical therapist or athletic trainer. These professionals will know when it is appropriate to begin range of motion exercises as well as strengthening exercises to help get you back on your feet. Finally, if the area has increased swelling, is warm/hot to the touch and there are red streaks going away from the area contact your physician immediately because these are all signs of further complications.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.