Minus/plus icon
ResourcesExplore the full ACKO experience and make the most of your plan

Home / Health Insurance / Articles / First Aid / First Aid Guide: Sprain

First Aid Guide: Sprain

Team AckoJan 17, 2024

Whether you're an athlete, a weekend warrior, or just walking down the street, a sprain can occur when you least expect it. It is crucial to know what to do immediately in such a situation to reduce the pain and the risk of further injury. In this article, you will learn the best first aid tips for sprains. These effective ways will help you recover quickly and get back on your feet. Read on to know more.




Understanding the difference between strain and sprain

Strains involve injuries to muscles and tendons, while sprains involve injuries to ligaments. Also, strains are more commonly associated with overuse or repetitive motion, while sprains are more commonly associated with sudden, forceful movements.

Common causes of Sprains

Sprains are caused by the overstretching or tearing of ligaments. Some of the most common causes include the following.

  • Sports injuries (such as twisting an ankle while playing cricket or football)

  • Falls (such as slipping on ice or tripping on uneven pavement)

  • Car accidents (where the body is suddenly jolted in one direction or another)

  • Repetitive motion (such as typing or playing an instrument)

It's important to always warm up and stretch before physical activity to help prevent sprains.

Symptoms of a Sprain

Here’s a rundown of signs of Sprain. It is important to seek medical attention if you experience any of these signs and symptoms, as a proper diagnosis and treatment plan can help prevent further injury and promote healing.

  • Pain and tenderness: A sprain can cause pain and tenderness around the affected joint or muscle. This can make it difficult to move the area or even touch it.

  • Swelling and bruising: Another common symptom of a sprain is swelling and bruising around the injured area. This is caused by inflammation and bleeding under the skin.

  • Limited range of motion: As a result of the above symptoms, a sprain can limit the range of motion in the affected area. This makes it difficult to perform everyday tasks or participate in physical activities.

  • Difficulty bearing weight: Depending on the severity of the injury, you may have difficulty standing or walking on the affected limb. This is due to pain and weakness.

First Aid for Sprains

There are different ways you can count on to treat sprains at home.

1. Rest and immobilisation

  • Take a break from the activity that caused the sprain: It is crucial to stop the activity right away to prevent any further damage to the sprained area. Continuing the activity may also delay the healing process.

  • Use of crutches or a brace to immobilise the affected area: Immobilisation helps reduce swelling and pain. It also promotes healing by allowing the body to focus on repairing damaged tissues. A splint or brace can be used to provide support to the affected area.

  • How long to rest and immobilise the affected area: The duration of rest and immobilisation depends on the severity of the sprain. Minor sprains may only require a few days of rest and immobilisation, while more severe ones may require several weeks or even months. It is important to follow the advice of a healthcare professional and to gradually resume activity after the recommended rest period to avoid re-injury. Remember to always listen to your body and never push yourself too hard too soon.

2. Compression

  • Use compression to reduce swelling and pain: Compression is an essential first aid for sprains as it helps to reduce swelling and alleviate pain. When applied immediately after the injury, it helps limit the amount of blood flow to the affected area and prevents the accumulation of fluids. This, in turn, reduces the swelling and can help speed up the healing process.

  • How to apply compression properly: To apply compression properly, use a compression bandage or an elastic wrap. Start wrapping from the lowest part of the affected area and move upwards. The wrap should be snug but not too tight. Make sure to overlap the wrap by one-half to ensure even compression.

  • How long to use compression: Compression should be used for several hours to several days, depending on the severity of the sprain. It is recommended to keep the compression on for at least 20 to 30 minutes, remove it for 5 to 10 minutes, and then reapply. This helps prevent any damage to the skin or underlying tissue. If the pain or swelling persists, seek medical attention immediately.

3. Ice

  • Use ice to reduce swelling and pain: Ice constricts the blood vessels and reduces blood flow to the affected area. This reduces swelling and pain.

  • How to apply ice properly: Wrap ice in a towel or cloth and apply it to the affected area for 20 minutes. Remove the ice for 20 to 30 minutes and repeat the process. Do not apply ice directly to the skin, as it can cause frostbite.

  • How long to use ice: Use ice every 2-3 hours for the first 2-3 days after the injury.

4. Elevation

  • Elevate the affected area to reduce swelling: Elevating the injured area helps reduce swelling by allowing fluids to drain away from the injured site. Swelling can increase pain and slow down the healing process, so elevating the affected area is an important step in the first aid treatment of sprains.

  • How to elevate the affected area properly: Using pillows or rolled up towels, elevate the injured area so that it is comfortably elevated. Be sure to support the injured area and avoid any movement that could cause further damage. It's also important to make sure that the elevated area is well-supported and not at risk of slipping or falling.

  • How long to elevate the affected area: Elevate the affected area for at least 20 to 30 minutes at a time, 3 to 4 times a day, until the swelling has gone down. It's important not to keep the area elevated for too long, as this can cause numbness, tingling, or other circulation problems. Remember to also combine elevation with other first aid treatments such as rest, ice, compression, and seeking medical attention if necessary.

Recovery and rehabilitation

Proper rehabilitation is crucial to a speedy recovery. It's important to follow the rehabilitation plan provided by your healthcare provider to ensure that you regain strength, mobility, and function as soon as possible. Skipping or modifying rehabilitation exercises can lead to suboptimal outcomes and slower recovery times.

Your rehabilitation programme may include a range of exercises and techniques to aid your recovery. These can range from range-of-motion exercises, strengthening exercises, balance and coordination exercises, and cardiovascular exercises. Your healthcare provider will recommend the most appropriate exercises for your condition and stage of recovery.

When is it safe to return to activities?

Your healthcare provider will guide you regarding when it's safe to return to certain activities. This will depend on the type of injury or condition you are recovering from, as well as your progress during rehabilitation. It's important to follow your healthcare provider's advice to prevent re-injury and promote a successful recovery. Return to activities may be gradual, and your healthcare provider may recommend modifications or specific precautions to take during certain activities. Remember to communicate any concerns or questions with your healthcare provider throughout your recovery process.

Frequently asked questions

Listed below are questions and answers pertaining to First Aid for Sprain.


How to treat a sprained arm?

If you have a sprained arm, you should rest it and avoid any activities that could further damage the ligaments. Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce swelling and alleviate pain. You may also need to wrap your arm in a compression bandage and elevate it to reduce swelling. If the case is severe, you may need to see a doctor and possibly use a sling or brace to immobilise the joint while it heals.

Is there any medicine to treat sprains?

Mild sprains can be treated with rest and ice, more severe ones may require medication. 

When to seek medical attention?

Some signs that a sprain may be more severe than initially thought include the following.

  • The inability to put weight on the injured area

  • Extreme pain or swelling

  • Numbness or tingling in or around the injured area

  • The joint looks visibly deformed or is abnormally bent

What should I expect during a medical evaluation?

During a medical evaluation, the doctor will examine the injury, ask about how it happened, and assess your range of motion. They may also order X-rays or other imaging tests to check for any fractures or other damage. It's important to follow the doctor's instructions carefully and attend any necessary follow-up appointments to ensure proper healing and prevent long-term damage. 


Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


Want to post any comments?


Affordable Health Insurance for You & Your Family starting @ ₹20/day*

✅ 100% Room Rent Covered* ✅ Zero deductions at claims ✅ 7100+ Cashless Hospitals

quote icon

Check health insurance

quote icon