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First Aid for Sprain

Last updated March 5, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

An injury to the ligament caused by a sudden, forceful stretching or hyper extension/flexion causes a Sprain. A ligament is a connective tissue (like an elastic band) that connects bones in joints.


What is Sprain?

  • An injury to the ligament caused by a sudden, forceful stretching or hyper extension/flexion causes a Sprain. A ligament is a connective tissue (like an elastic band) that connects bones in joints
  • The usual locations for Sprain include the ankle, back, and thigh muscles. These types of injuries are more commonly observed in sports athletes

What are the Causes of Sprain?

A Sprain most commonly occurs during sports activities, trauma, falls, walking on uneven ground, and due to other accidents.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Sprain?

The signs and symptoms of Sprain include:

  • Pain
  • Difficulty moving the joint
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Bruising
  • Injured area can become numb

How is First Aid administered for Sprain?

First Aid tips for Sprain include:

RICE treatment is the key to a sprained joint. RICE stands for REST, ICE, COMPRESSION, & ELEVATION.

  • Rest the affected joint
  • Try using crutches in case of an ankle or knee sprain; use splints for other joints. Do not completely immobilize the joints
  • Apply a cold pack or ice wrapped in clean cloth, over the affected joint. Apply this for 15-20 minutes, 4-6 times a day, for  1-2 days
  • Apply bandages or a compressive wrap (like Ace wrap) on the injured joint
  • Elevate the affected joint to minimize swelling
  • Consider taking over-the-counter medications, such as Tylenol, NSAIDs, Aleve, or Advil (Motrin, Ibuprofen)
  • Resume use of the injured joint gradually after 2 days

Seek medical help immediately if you notice a deformed joint or if you suspect a fracture; otherwise seek medical attention if:

  • Pain does not subside for over 2 to 3 days
  • You are unable to move the joint even after resting
  • You cannot bear any weight on the injured limb
  • The injured part turns red, or if there are any signs of infection
  • You have fever higher than 100 deg. F

Who should administer First Aid for Sprain?

The person himself/herself or someone nearby, may administer First Aid.

What is the Prognosis of Sprain?

The prognosis is dependent on the severity of the injury and proper First Aid rendered. But, generally the prognosis is good.

How can Sprain be Prevented?

A few helpful tips to prevent Sprain include:

  • Walk or run on even surface
  • Always warm-up, before starting any sporting activities
  • Wear shoes that fits you well
  • Avoid high heels if possible
  • Use appropriate protective equipment when participating in high intense training, or while hiking/trekking

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Immediate RICE treatment with appropriate medical attention

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?


References and Information Sources used for the Article:


Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:


Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: May 27, 2013
Last updated: March 5, 2018