1. Control Swelling With “RICE” Therapy (RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate)
Rest the strained or sprained area. If required, you can use a crutches for a foot or leg injury and sling for an arm injury. Protect an injured toe or finger by taping it to an adjacent toe or finger.
Ice the swollen area for twenty minutes each hour. You should never place ice directly on the skin as it can damage the skin. Use a thin piece of cloth for protection of the skin.
Compress the area by wrapping an elastic bandage lightly around the limb or joint. Make sure that this wrapping is not too tight. There are specialized braces for the ankle for this purpose. These work better than other bandages for neutralizing a swelling.
Elevate the swollen area above the level of your heart. This is important to eliminate the swelling as soon as possible.
2. Managing Inflammation and Pain
Take an over the counter non-steroid-anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil). Aspirin is not recommended for anyone below the age of 18-years.
3. Visit Your Doctor Immediately
If your strain or sprain is more than a minor one, it is always better to see your doctor. There could be occasions of broken bones or tissues. Such instances should be showed to a doctor without further delay. Symptoms of broken bones include, cannot move the injured limb or joint, numbness, significant swelling with fever and a “popping” sound with the injury.
4. Follow Up
Continue with the RICE treatment for 24-48 hours or until the patient is taken to a qualified physician. The doctor would recommend an MRI or X-Ray to eliminate the possibility of a broken bone. The limb or joint would be immobilized with a splint or cast until the healing is complete. Physical therapy would be highly important to bring an injured joint back to normal. If the case is quite severe, surgery may be required to cure it.