Sprains and strains are common injuries affecting the muscles and ligaments. Most can be treated at home. Start with RICE therapy for the first 48 hours:
Rest – Stop any exercise or activities and try not to put any weight on the injury.
Ice – Apply an ice pack (such as a bag of frozen peas in a tea towel) to the injury for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.
Compression – Wrap a bandage around the injury to support it.
Elevate – Keep it raised on a pillow as much as possible.
While treating with RICE, avoid heat, alcohol and massages. Painkillers like paracetamol will ease the pain and ibuprofen will bring down swelling – but avoid the later for 48 hours after your injury as it may slow down healing.
As soon as it is not too painful, start moving the injured area so that the joint or muscle doesn’t become stiff. Too much rest can cause your muscles too shrink and scar tissue to form. However, be cautious, because doing too much strenuous exercise too soon could make your injury worse.
After two weeks, most sprains and strains will feel better. Continue to avoid strenuous exercise, such as running for up to 8 weeks, to avoid the risk of further damage. Severe sprains and strains can take months to get back to normal.
Seek medical help if the injury is not getting any better or is getting worse.
See the NHS website for more information.