For how long should you treat a sprain at home, and when should you consult a doctor?

Here are tips from Dr Pradip Shah on how to relieve pain and swelling due to ankle or knee sprain.

A sudden twist of the ankle during jogging or while playing sports can be extremely painful if you fail to follow first-aid measures. And in some cases, it can indicate a severe tissue damage or ligament tear that should be addressed immediately. If you have a minor sprain in ankles or arm, here are few things you should do to ease the pain and prevent further injury, says Dr Pradip Shah, Consultant Physician, HOD Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Mulund.

RICE therapy: The first and an essential first aid measure to relieve pain and swelling in the knees and ankles is to follow RICE therapy. RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) therapy indicates that you should not put pressure on the injured leg but take sufficient rest and apply ice. If you are unable to move your foot, you can use crutches to walk as it lowers the pressure on the injured ankle or knee. Here s more you should know about RICE therapy.

Hot fomentation: You can even use hot fomentation on the sprain leg or arm as it improves blood circulation and helps in relieving the symptoms. To do this, you can either use hot water pack or heat salt and slowly dab it on the area to reduce swelling.

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Analgesics: If the pain is unbearable, you can even use OTC (over-the-counter) local analgesics or pain relievers available in the form of tablets, ointments or sprays to ease the pain. While opting for an ointment, ensure that you apply the product gently on the skin and that it should penetrate the skin for effective relief. The pills act as muscle relaxants to reduce pain but ensure that you don t pop a pill every time you experience pain as it can cause serious side-effects on the kidney.

Physiotherapy: As you show improvement in your condition, try performing physiotherapy exercises to improve the ankle or knee movement. Here s something you can try for ankle movement. Lie down in a supine position and move your foot up and down. This will cause the ankle to move in one direction. In some cases, you might experience a twist in the movement but it is not a cause of concern. Practise this every day for a quick recovery. Here are 3 easy exercises to tackle ankle sprain.

In addition to this, here are few things that you need to keep in mind if you experience knee or ankle sprain.

Some people are susceptible to sprain during winters and if you are one of them, it is wise to wear comfortable shoes and other protective wear and avoid going out. You may also like to read about home remedies for sprain and muscle cramps.

If you experience spasm with a sprain, here s what you need to do. Hold the muscle in the opposite direction and this might ease the pain.

If treating it at home is not yielding any effective outcome even after a day or two (48 hours), consult a doctor at the earliest. Your doctor might check for any muscle deformity, advice X-ray to get a clear idea about your condition. In some cases, even use of injections is what you need to get rid of the pain and swelling.

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