What do you get when you mix cold weather and precipitation? Very dangerous conditions for walking and driving. If that weather gets cold enough you are likely to see ice start to form and we have all slipped on a patch of ice at least once in our lifetime. Sometimes those slips results in just a bruised ego and a bump on the behind, but other times those slips can cause serious damage such as sprains. Now when most people think of sprains, they think of an athlete who has gotten hurt. However, anyone can sprain an elbow, knee, wrist or an ankle and it just all depends on severity of the landing after one fall.
Landing awkwardly after a fall is one sign that there might be some major damage. If you notice swelling or intense pain after a fall, make sure that you visit your doctor at the earliest time to rule out a fracture. If everything checks out at the doctor’s office and it is just a sprain then more than likely your doctor will tell you to R.I.C.E (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). Using the R.I.C.E system is the best way to heal a sprained wrist or ankle.
The first thing that one should do when dealing with a sprain is to rest the sprained area. In the case of a sprained ankle or knee, you should try to stay off of it as much as you can. If you have to move around, then use crutches in order to keep pressure off of your ankle or knee. With wrist or elbow sprains, do not carry or lift heavy objects. You should try to keep your wrist or elbow as immobile as possible in order to prevent further damage.
In order to help with swelling and pain, ice should be applied to the sprain during the first 48 to 72 hours until the swelling starts to go down. You do not want to keep ice on the sprain constantly, but apply ice for 10 to 12 minutes every 1 to 2 hours. The ice with help to numb the pain and allow the swelling to decrease.
Compression is also a key factor in reducing the amount of swelling in a sprained elbow, knee, wrist or ankle. Elastic bandages/wraps (such as ACE bandages) are perfect to use on a sprain. The elastic bandage/wrap should be worn for the first 24 to 36 hours after a sprain has occurred. Elastic bandages/wraps are not ideal when you try to move around and put pressure on a sprain. If you have to get up and walk, then it is a good idea to wear protective brace on the ankle or knee. The same goes for a sprained wrist or elbow. The use of a brace or splint can help with pressure that is being applied.
Lastly, elevate the sprained area above your heart. Elevation should happen for about 2 to 3 hours a day in order to reducing the swelling and bruising. Pillows are a great tool to use when trying to elevate a sprain. Elevating a sprain above your heart allows all of the pressure that surrounds the sprain to dissipate and that helps to relieve pain as well as swelling.
So the next time that you take a nasty fall and find yourself with a sprained elbow, knee, wrist or ankle, just remember to R.I.C.E. the injury. It is no fun trying to get around with a sprain, but the R.I.C.E. will get you back in to your normal routine faster, than just doing nothing.
All information courtesy of WebMD.com