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Alternative Names Return to topJoint sprain
Definition Return to top
A sprain is an injury to the ligaments around a joint. Ligaments are strong, flexible fibers that hold bones together. When a ligament is stretched too far or tears, the joint will become painful and swell.
Causes Return to top
Sprains are caused when a joint is forced to move into an unnatural position. For example, "twisting" one's ankle causes a sprain to the ligaments around the ankle.
Symptoms Return to top
First Aid Return to top
Aspirin, ibuprofen, or other pain relievers can help. DO NOT give aspirin to children.
Keep pressure off the injured area until the pain subsides (usually 7-10 days for mild sprains and 3-5 weeks for severe sprains). You may require crutches when walking. Rehabilitation to regain the motion and strength of the joint should begin within one week.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Go to the hospital right away or call 911 if:
Call your doctor if:
Prevention Return to top
References Return to top
Mercier LR. Sports medicine. In: Mercier LR, ed. Practical Orthopedics. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 15.
Krabak BJ, Baima J. Ankle sprain. In: Frontera, WR, Silver JK, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 75.
Geiderman JM. General principles of orthopedic injuries. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 6th ed. St Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2006:chap 46.Update Date: 5/2/2009 Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.