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How do you treat a joint sprain?

A sprain is an injury to the fibers of your ligaments, soft tissues in your joints that connect your bones to one another. If you experience joint pain following a California car accident, it is important to receive a medical evaluation of your injury. A doctor can rule out a bone fracture or more serious injury and give you specific treatment instructions.

According to the Mayo Clinic, it is especially important to see a doctor for serious symptoms at the joint, such as numbness, instability, signs of infection, chronic pain or reinjury to the site of a former sprain. A severe injury to a ligament may require surgery to correct. However, most sprains resolve with a course of nonsurgical, conservative treatment. Your doctor will tell you exactly what to do, but treatment methods for a sprain usually include the following.

Compression

Your doctor may apply an Ace bandage or another compressive wrap to the joint or recommend that you use a neoprene sleeve for compression. You can obtain these items from the doctor's office, or you can purchase one off the shelf from a pharmacy.

Elevation

When possible, you should elevate the injured joint comfortably so that it is above the level of your heart. For example, if you sprained your ankle, you could prop your foot up on pillows while you lie in your bed or sit in a recliner chair. Both compression and elevation help to prevent swelling.

Ice

Icing a sprained joint helps to reduce pain as well as prevent swelling. Only apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Otherwise, the cold could cause tissue damage. 

Rest

Staying off the joint helps it to heal more quickly. Your doctor will advise you on how long to rest the joint. Often, you will need to refrain from using it for 48 to 72 hours following the injury.

You can use the acronym RICE to help you remember all the steps in this care regimen. The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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