Both strains and sprains are really common. Both injuries have some common symptoms like pain, swelling and limited movement, but they’re different.
Strains = muscle injuries, as in a stretched or torn muscle/tendon
Sprains = ligament injuries, as in a stretched or torn ligament that connects bones at a joint
Thankfully, treating both kinds of injury can involve the same, simple approach.
How to Treat Strains and Sprains
Remember to RICE for 1 to 2 days
- Rest: Try to limit your activity on your injured area so it can recover.
- Ice: Use a covered ice pack for no more than 20 minutes at a time, 4 to 8 times a day to avoid frost bite.
- Compress: Use elastic wraps, air casts or splints or your own choice of wrap to apply gentle pressure to your injury. This can also help reduce swelling.
- Elevate: Keep your injury raised above your heart with something soft like a pillow to reduce swelling.
Get relief from medication
Thankfully, the pain from strains and sprains can be quickly and effectively managed. Try an over-the-counter pain reliever like TYLENOL®.†
Get back to it
After 2 or 3 days, try gentle movement or mild exercises to start using your injured area and get back to your normal routine. Talk to your doctor before beginning or revising any exercise regimen.
Talk to your doctor
As always, if something seems amiss or you’re in severe pain, contact your family doctor. He or she can help figure out if it’s serious and come up with a plan to treat your injury.
† To be sure any TYLENOL® product is right for you, always read and follow the labelled directions for use.