A sprain is an injury to the ligaments of a joint without displacement of the joint surfaces. In the event of a sprain, the normal range of action of a joint is exceeded as a result of the impact and causes distortion damage to the capsuloligamentous apparatus.
Ligaments are elastic tissues that connect bones and are found in joints.
We distinguish between benign sprains (no torn ligaments) and severe sprains (there are torn ligaments).
The ankle is the body region most affected by sprains. Most ankle sprains involve ligament injuries to the outside of the ankle.

Sprains also often develop at the knees and arches of the feet.

Repetitive sprains
If a person has a sprain, the likelihood of suffering a new sprain is greater than a person who has never suffered the condition.

Differences Between Sprains and Muscle Pain
Although sprains often have the same symptoms as muscle pain (myalgia), the causes are different. As we have seen, a sprain is a stretching or tearing of the ligaments affecting the ankle, while muscle pains ( strains in English) mainly affect the lumbar region and the hamstring muscle in the upper part of the thigh.


When the joint is subjected to a sudden movement there is a risk of a benign or severe sprain.

This is what happens to athletes (soccer, tennis players, etc.) who frequently make sudden and violent movements.

Walking and/or false movement can also cause a sprain.

Sprained Ankle
A sprained ankle occurs when you turn or twist your ankle awkwardly, stretching or tearing the ligaments that help hold the ankle bones together.

Groups of risk

The risk groups are mainly:

– Athletes, sportsmen

– Fatigue in general (which weakens and can favor a sprain)


Generally, the stronger the pain, the stronger and more important the injury.

There are 3 different types of sprains, classified by pain:

Slight Sprain or Strain : The ligament is stretched or slightly torn. Pain is mild or non-existent but may increase with movement. In general, the affected area is not particularly inflamed.

Moderate sprain: some ligament fibers are torn, but not completely. The affected area, such as the joint, becomes painful and sometimes swollen. Movement is difficult. A hematoma may be present.

Severe sprain: One or more ligaments are completely torn. The affected area, often a joint, is very painful, very swollen and a different color from the rest of the joint, indicative of a bruise. You cannot move the joint.

Movements in the joint are abnormally wide, this is because the ligaments that support the joint are severely damaged and can no longer hold smooth joint movement. A hematoma is typically noted 24 hours after the onset of the sprain.

Note: A severe sprain is easy to mistake for a fracture.


The diagnosis of sprains consists of:

– A clinical examination

– X-rays (eg X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (IRMI), CT scan or ultrasound)

It is important to consult a doctor in case of severe sprain.


Treatment of a sprain, especially of the ankle, depends on the severity of the injury.

Treatment of benign sprains usually consists of:

– In the application of ice packs, which must be done as soon as possible (more information in “application of ice in case of sprains”)

– Compression: put on a bandage, a plaster (strapping, done by the doctor), a cast or a bandage for 2 to 3 weeks, this helps to prevent swelling. It is the doctor who will decide on the best solution to immobilize the joint well and help with the reconstruction of the ligaments.

– The use of anti-pain and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or diclofenac for external use (cream, gel,…) or internal use (tablets).

– Rest, you can, for example, use the help of a cane or crutch to walk, if the sprain occurs in the ankle or knee. The goal is to stabilize the joint while the patient waits for a doctor’s appointment.

Emergency care:  
In summary, the immediate care after a sprain (sprain) is summarized by the acronym RICE, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation which in Portuguese is Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. We also read more and more the acronym in English PRICE, where P stands for Protection, below we list it in order of the acronym in English:
–  Protection : Protect the affected area to avoid further accidents or injuries. It may be necessary to limit or avoid weight-bearing activities or immobilize the area with a splint or bandage.
– ice: apply immediately after the sprain for 15 to 20 minutes, with ice or ice pack on the injured limb and repeat this cooling process every 2 to 3 hours while awake. Ice helps to reduce pain, swelling and inflammation in the affected joint. If you have vascular disease, diabetes or a decrease in sensitivity, consult your doctor before applying ice.
– Rest : avoid intense physical exertion for at least two days.
– Elevation : elevate the limb affected by the sprain above the level of the heart. Elevating the limb affected by the sprain (eg ankle) is especially recommended during the night when sleeping.
– Compression: Compress the swollen part with an elastic bandage. Avoid pressing too hard. Remove the compression only when the sprain symptoms disappear.

In addition to treatment for a mild sprain (ice, bandage, pain reliever), your doctor may suggest surgery. Surgery is rarely needed, it’s usually done when the injury won’t heal or the ankle remains unstable after a long period of physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises, as the Mayo Clinic explains . Surgery may be done to repair a ligament that won’t heal or to rebuild a ligament with tissue from a nearby ligament or tendon.


– Quickly apply an ice pack (to limit pain and swelling, “natural anti-inflammatory” effect). You can, for example, do ten-minute compresses and repeat the operation every hour. Use an ice pack (or gel “cold pack”) protected by a towel (you must not leave the ice cream in contact with the skin).

– In case of swelling and if the sprain occurs in the foot region, it is advisable to leave the foot in an elevated position.

– If your sprain occurs after playing sports, you are advised not to resume sports immediately afterwards: for example, in the case of a moderate sprain, you need 4 to 6 weeks of rest before resuming sports.

– About 48 hours after the sprain, if the swelling has disappeared, apply heat to the affected area.


– Do a good warm-up before playing sports and do stretching exercises at the end.
Relax and stretch your muscles at the start of the exercise and gradually increase your activity level over 5-10 minutes. If you often suffer from sprains, apply heat before exercising. At the end of the exercise, relax gradually with muscle stretches. It is also advisable to apply cold (e.g. cold compress) to painful areas, even without sprains, after finishing an exercise to avoid inflammation and swelling1.

– Avoid wearing high heels. In general, when walking a lot, wear good shoes.

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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