Sprains and strains often happen when you overstretch or twist a muscle. Common causes can include throwing yourself into a workout without a proper warm-up, tired muscles or playing sport.
Sprains and strains are common injuries and can happen to people of all ages.
If you have pain, tenderness or weakness around your ankle, foot, wrist, thumb, knee, leg or back, and the injured area is swollen or bruised, you could have a strain or a sprain. In some cases, you might not be able to put your weight on the injury. You may also have muscle spasms or cramping – where your muscles tighten painfully on their own.
Sprains are typically caused by torn or twisted ligaments. These are the tissues that connect our joints. The most common cause of a strain is a ‘pulled-muscle’. This happens when the muscle is overstretched or torn. The good news is that most sprains and strains will feel better after a couple of weeks. However, it’s worth remembering that severe strains and sprains may take far longer to feel better.
Give yourself plenty of time to rest and recover, and avoid overdoing it when you exercise – for up to two months after the initial strain or sprain. You could do more harm than good.
To get short-term relief try the RICE approach. (Rest, Ice, Comfortable Support, Elevation).1 That involves resting the joint to prevent further injury, applying an ice pack for 15 minutes then for comfortable support use a support bandage to hold it in place, which goes up as far as the next joint on each side. Finally, elevate the injury and support it with something soft, like a cushion.
Ask your pharmacist for more advice.