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Sprains

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Learn more about the different Sprain Injuries and how LA Orthopedic Group can manage your symptoms.

When thick bands of tissue known as ligaments are stretched or torn, it’s referred to a sprain. While ankle, knee, wrist, and thumb sprains are common, ligaments around any joint may be affected. Surgery may be needed if the sprain is severe or involves damage to the joint connected by the ligament.

  • Can occur due to hard fall or sudden twist
  • Stretching a ligament beyond normal range of motion can also cause a sprain
  • Home remedies are often all a sprain needs to heal

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What Causes Sprains

A sprain may occur when outstretching a hand to arm to stop a fall or when stretching a joint too far. Sprains can also be caused when suddenly pivoting in one direction while playing sports, exercising or placing too much weight on a joint, or while attempting not to fall, like when slipping. Sprains may produce the following symptoms:

  • Swelling and bruising
  • A “popping” sensation
  • Sudden, sharp pain
  • Discomfort that starts off minor and becomes more noticeable as inflammation develops
  • Limited movement in the affected area

Who’s at Risk

Anyone may have a sprain, but this type of injury is more common among athletes and older adults. Patients with joint instability due to existing injury or another condition affecting soft tissues may also be at risk of spraining a ligament. Contributing factors sometimes include poor-fitting footwear and improper technique while working out or playing sports.

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Diagnosis

Diagnosis of a sprain usually starts with an evaluation of symptoms and a patient’s report of what activity or action likely caused it. A musculoskeletal ultrasound or MRI scan may be done to determine the extent of the sprain and whether or not other soft tissues were damaged. An X-ray can rule out fractures.
Taken while the affected joint is being moved in different directions, a stress X-ray can show whether or not abnormal movements are being caused be a sprained ligament. Such testing can also identify which one of the following classifications applies to a sprain:

  • Grade 1: Mild sprain that often includes swelling
  • Grade 2: Moderate sprain involving a partial ligament tear
  • Grade 3: Severe sprain that includes a complete tear of a ligament

Treatment Options

Treatment for a sprain usually starts with the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method and self-care with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and pain-relievers. Passive physical therapy techniques such as the application of heat and ice and massage therapy may help with mild or moderate sprains. For more significant sprains, an orthopedic specialist may recommend:

  • An arthroscopic evaluation of the affected joint
  • Prescription NSAIDs and pain medications
  • Rehabilitative exercises
  • Bracing or sprinting to immobilize the affected area
  • Surgery to repair sprains that include a torn ligament

Sprains can sometimes be prevented by being cautious with slippery or uneven surfaces and removing fall hazards from around the home. Activity-related sprains may be prevented by doing a proper warm-up first and avoiding exercise or sports when tired or already in pain. Wearing comfortable shoes and being mindful of your diet and exercise habits can also be helpful.

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Testimonials

Our whole family has been to Los Angeles Orthopedic Group! We love the whole staff and have been so thankful for the ways they have taken care of us.
K. L.
This center helped my teenage son when he was injured playing sports. The care that we received was compassionate and thorough.
L. C.
LA Orthopedic Group has truly changed my life. I no longer experience chronic pain and have been able to find relief with only minimally invasive treatment options.
J. L.