You’ll want to keep this first-aid guide for sprains handy for emergencies

Yes, it is painful but a sprain can be treated at home with a little care and a lot of caution.
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Are you ready to pay the PRICE and avoid HARM? Image courtesy: Shutterstock.
Aishwarya Chopra Published: 12 May 2020, 17:51 pm IST
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With the novel coronavirus killing thousands of people all over the world, it is obvious that most of us are avoiding going to the hospital. And so, it is extremely important, especially in the current times, that you know some basics of first aid.

After all, exactly how careful can you be? For those working around the house, an injury can happen at any point in time. For instance, while running around the house and taking care of your family, you might fall and injure a ligament causing a sprain. 

A damaged ligament leads to inflammation, swelling, and bleeding (which shows as bruising) around the affected joint. And if you can’t rush to a doctor at that time, here are some first-aid tips to keep in mind.  

What’s an initial treatment for a sprain?
The piercing pain caused by a sprain can be treated using the PRICE method (Protect, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation), together with avoiding HARM (Heat, Alcohol, Running, and Massage).

muscle cramps
Does accidental sprain often hinder your workout? Let the PRICE formula help you out. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

What entails “paying the PRICE”?

  • You must first protect the sprained ankle or arm from further injury by giving it support.
  • You must delicately rest the joint for 48-72 hours following the injury. Avoid putting weight on the injured hand/leg for a few days post-injury.
  • Apply ice as soon as possible after the injury for 15-20 minutes every two or three hours for the first two to three days. You can make an ice pack using ice cubes in a towel or frozen peas. This will help reduce blood flow to the damaged ligament and limit pain, inflammation, as well as bruising.

Beware: Don’t put ice directly on the skin since it may cause an ice burn. Also, don’t leave ice on while asleep.

  • Do compression with a bandage to limit the swelling. This will also help rest the joint or muscle. Ensure that the bandage isn’t too tight. The pressure should be mild and blood flow shouldn’t be interrupted. Since we’re social distancing, you can call the pharmacist for advice on the correct size of bandage. You can also consult with your doctor about how long you need to keep the bandage on.
  • Maintain elevation to limit and reduce any swelling. With a sprained ankle you can keep your leg on a chair to at least hip level while sitting. If it is your arm that is hurt, keep it in a sling for a couple of days.

What should be done to avoid HARM?

  • Avoid using heat on the sprained area since it encourages blood flow which will increase the bruising and inflammation.
  • Bid temporary goodbye to alcohol since it can increase the bleeding and swelling while slowing down the healing process.
  • Avoid running or any other activity that utilises the affected part of the body since it can cause further damage.
exercise and mental fitness
Avoid running right after a sprain otherwise it can make the injury worse. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
  • Contrary to popular belief, avoid massaging the area for the first 72 hours since it may increase bleeding and swelling. However, post the time period, a gentle massage may be soothing.

Sprains are something you can treat at home. They are painful, sure, but with a little bit of PRICE along with avoiding HARM, you can make sure you’re healed soon enough.

Please note: Doing these activities for 72 hours is crucial. Although, if after 72 hours you experience increased swelling or pain, you must consult with your doctor immediately. Alternatively, if the swelling is immense and pain unbearable, and you can’t see to move the limb, you need to contact your doctor to rule out fractures.

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