• Hip & Knee
  • Foot & Ankle
  • Spine Surgery
  • Total Joint Replacement
  • Pediatric Orthopedics
  • Shoulder, Elbow, Hand & Wrist
  • Sports Medicine & Arthroscopy
  • Osteoporosis & Metabolic Bone Disease
Home » Patient Info » Sprain & Fracture

Sprain & Fracture

Fracture :: Bone Repair

Anatomy of a Sprain

A sprain is an injury to a ligament. A ligament is a thick, tough, fibrous tissue that connects bones together. The most commomly injured ligaments are in the ankle, knee, and wrist. The ligaments can be injured by being stretched too far from their normal position. Ligaments hold your skeleton together in a normal alignment -- thereby preventing abnormal movements. Sprains are caused when a joint is forced to move into an unnatural position. For example, "twisting" an ankle causes a sprain to the ligaments around the ankle.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Pain in affected area
  • Swelling
  • Joint stiffness
  • Skin discoloration, especially bruising

Treatment Options

  1. Apply ice immediately to help reduce swelling. Wrap the ice in cloth -- do not place ice directly on the skin
  2. Try NOT to move the affected area. To help you do this, bandage the affected area firmly, but not tightly. ACE bandages work well
  3. Keep the swollen joint elevated above the level of the heart, including while you are sleeping
  4. Rest the affected joint for several days

Aspirin, ibuprofen, or other pain relievers can help. DO NOT give aspirin to children.

Call your doctor if the following occurs:

  • Swelling does not go down within 2 days
  • You have severe pain and cannot put any weight on the injured joint
  • The area over the injured joint or next to it is very tender when you touch it
  • You cannot move the injured joint
  • You cannot walk more than four steps without significant pain
  • You have numbness in any part of the injured area
  • You injure an area that has been injured several times before
  • You have pain, swelling, or redness over a bony part of your foot
  • You are in doubt about the seriousness of the injury or how to care for it