How can I treat a sprain?

Here are some tips for taking care of a sprain or strain:

Do the "R.I.C.E." treatment:

  • R — Rest. Don't exercise the hurt area for a few days. It's okay to move it gently.
  • I — Ice. Put ice in a plastic bag, and hold it on the area. Keep it there for 15 minutes every 2 to 3 hours for the first day or so after the injury. But do not do this if you have diabetes or a circulation problem.
  • C — Compression. Wrap the area with an elastic bandage, like an ACE bandage. Begin wrapping at the end farther from your heart. Don't wrap it too tightly. Loosen it if the area gets numb.
  • E — Elevation. Keep the hurt area raised up higher than your heart. For example, you can put a sprained ankle up on a pillow while you watch TV, read a book or sleep.

Treat pain with medicine. If the pain is bad, use acetaminophen (like Tylenol) or ibuprofen (like Advil). Do not give aspirin to a child or teenager—it increases risk for a serious problem called Reye's syndrome.

Continue Learning about Sprains and Strains

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.