When you get a sprain by making a sudden or extreme movement, such as twisting your ankle or yanking your shoulder, you’ve actually stretched or torn one or more ligaments — the cordlike tissue that holds your bones together. Simple sprains usually heal on their own within a few days and shouldn’t interfere with your daily activities or significantly impair your quality of life. Complex sprains mean that you’ve completely torn the ligament in half or that it has separated from the bone, and you might need surgery to repair it.
The specialists at Rose Urgent Care & Family Practice, with offices in Vancouver and Battleground, Washington, understand that you may be tempted to dismiss a sprain and not seek medical treatment. However, what you think is a sprain could be a number of other, more serious types of injuries, including a hairline fracture. Following are five reasons you should visit Rose Urgent Care & Family Practice if you think you have a sprain:
1. You can’t afford to make a mistake.
If you’re an athlete or need to walk, run, or use your injured foot, leg, hand, or arm for your job, getting checked out at Urgent Care guarantees you get the care you need right away. What you think is a simple sprain could actually be a hairline fracture or other type of bone injury, a complex sprain, or a strain (damaged tendons or muscles).
Although you could heal within days from a simple sprain, even a moderate sprain can put pressure on your joint and make movement difficult. A severe sprain can completely dislocate your joint. When you come to Rose Urgent Care, we X-ray your injury to survey the extent of your damage and make sure you get the right treatment.
2. You can’t put weight on or move the injured body part.
Even simple sprains tend to bruise, swell, and feel painful. But if you can’t put weight on your foot or knee, or if moving your shoulder or elbow hurts enough to impede your activities, you should seek medical care.
After ruling out other causes of your pain, we may prescribe assistive devices to help support your joint and your injured ligaments so they can repair themselves over time. Whether you need a walking boot or crutches, we can keep you mobile — and safe. We also recommend physical therapy exercises that help stretch and strengthen your ligaments to accelerate healing and minimize the risk of re-injury.
3. Your joint pops or cracks.
After a sprain, you may notice that your knee pops or your elbow cracks when you move it. These are signs that you may have a severe sprain and that the ligaments are no longer holding your joint in place.
When your ligament has completely torn or detached, you need to give your joint support so that it can function without becoming damaged or causing arthritis. Compression bandages, braces, splints, or crutches help keep your joints stable and increase your mobility without worsening your injury.
4. You’ve sprained that area before.
If you tend to sprain your ankles, wrist, or other body parts, your ligaments could be weak, as could the surrounding tendons and muscles. Spraining the same part over and over stresses the joint and can lead to arthritis, loose joints, and tendon damage.
In addition to treating your sprain, we may recommend you for physical therapy. Your physical therapist helps you stretch and strengthen your ligaments, evaluates and modifies your movements to minimize the risk of re-injury, and helps you learn to use assistive devices, when needed.
5. You don’t get better.
A few days of the RICE protocol should help your sprain feel better and improve mobility. The RICE protocol consists of:
Rest — not using the injured part
Icing — applying a wrapped ice pack to the injury for no more than 20 minutes per hour for the first 48 hours
Compression — wearing an ACE bandage or other compression device to stabilize the joint and minimize swelling
Elevation — raising the area above your waist to reduce swelling and bruising
You can also use anti-inflammatory medications to control pain. If you’re still in pain or have difficulty moving after a few days of self-care, come to Rose Urgent Care & Family Practice for evaluation and treatment.
Whether you have a simple sprain, moderate sprain, or severe sprain, you should limit your activities until your injury heals. Our doctors usually recommend refraining from sports, running, and other high-impact activities for at least four to eight weeks. During a follow-up visit, we’ll give you the all-clear when you’re ready to get back in the game.
To make sure your sprain heals well and fully, call us today, drop in during office hours, or book an appointment online.