Acute Sprains


An acute sprain is defined as the tearing or stretching of a ligament or a joint capsule, with symptoms of sudden onset and short duration. A ligament is the tissue that connects bones with each other. The condition does not include states of degenerative joints, ligament or muscular disease.

A sprain occurs when a joint is forced beyond its normal range of motion. It is typically termed as an acute sprain when it fails to respond to the early form of treatment and the pain begins to affect the daily life of the individual.

The most common symptoms of an acute sprain are muscle soreness, muscle spasm and pain. At times, inflammation or warmth also might exist over the involved muscle.

Types of Sprains

There are a series of common sprains that might occur in the course of daily life or in specific sports events. Here we list some of the most common sprains that are termed as acute sprains depending on their individual pattern.

1) Ankle Sprain

2) Finger Sprain

3) Wrist Sprain

4) Knee Sprain

Causative Factors

An acute sprain is normally a result of a fall, sudden twist or a blow to the body that forces the joint out of its normal position and stretches or tears the ligament supporting that joint.

Sprains typically occur when people fall and land on an outstretched arm, slide in to a baseball base, and land on the side of their foot or twist a knee with the foot planted firmly on the ground.

Treatment Options

Treatment of acute sprains is done normally with one or more of the following methods:

A) Ice Treatment

This is the most common form of treatment used for acute injuries. Ice packs help in minimizing the swelling around the injury, especially if applied frequently within the first 48 hours.

Ice treatments are most often used for ankle sprains and for overuse injuries in athletes.

B) Heat Treatment

Heat treatments are most often used in chronic conditions to help relax and loosen tissues and to stimulate blood flow to the area.

C) RICE treatment

Acute sprains are often affectively handled by the RICE approach .i.e. rest, ice, compression and elevate. However, you should be sure of the severity and nature of your sprain before you adopt this approach.

D) Medications

Certain over-the-counter medications are extremely helpful in the condition of acute sprains. These include aspirin, acetaminophen (paracetamol) and ibuprofen (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug).

Prescription medicines, such as acetaminophen (paracetamol)with codeine or dihydrocodeine are also helpful.

E) Nutritional Supplements

· Proteolytic enzymes

· Bromelain

· Antioxidant supplements

· Vitamin C

· Zinc

· Glucosamine sulfate

F) Local Injections

The majority of acute sprains will resolve with the above measures. In cases where these sprains become chronic conditions, it may be necessary to use local injections of local anaesthetic and steroid (eg: cortisone or depo-medrone) to help relieve the problem.