A sprain occurs when the ligament is torn or twisted, while a strain refers to an overstretched or torn muscle. You may have a sprain or a strain if you are experiencing swelling, bruising and pain, often around the ankle, foot, wrist, thumb, knee, leg or back.
To reduce swelling and encourage healing, avoid hot baths and heat packs and follow these steps:
* Rest: Avoid putting weight on the injury.
* Ice: Apply an ice pack to the injury every 2-3 hours for up to 20 minutes.
* Compression: Wrap a bandage around the injury.
* Elevate: Keep it raised on a pillow or chair.
Once you can move the area without pain, keep moving it regularly to avoid stiffness in the joint or muscle. Most minor strains and sprains feel better within 2 weeks, but avoid strenuous exercise for up to 8 weeks to prevent further damage. If the injury feels no better after a few days, is numb, discolored or cold, is causing excessive pain and still cannot bear weight after a few days, visit your primary care physician or the nearest hospital or health centre.