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When should I go to a doctor for a sprain or strain?

Although most sprains and strains can be treated at home, some require professional medical care. If there is any possibility that a bone is broken, professional treatment is needed immediately. Signs that indicate an injury requires professional medical attention include:

  • Rapid swelling or rapid bruising at the site of injury (within 15 minutes of the initial injury)
  • Inability to move the injured joint (or movement causes sharp pain)
  • Inability to put any weight on an injured limb
  • Injured area is twisted or bent out of shape
  • Popping sound is heard at the time of the injury
  • Grating sound is heard from the bones in the injured area
  • Loss of feeling in the injured area
  • Redness and heat at the site of the injury, accompanied by a fever
  • No improvement in one week
  • Repeated injury to the same area (more than once per year)

You should go to a doctor for a sprain or a strain if either of the following occurs:

  • the sprain or strain inhibits the ability of weight bearing
  • there is significant swelling and bruising

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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.