Sprained Ankle (cont.)

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Can sprains and strains be prevented?

Putting the body to work requires that it be prepared for a specific activity. Athletes routinely warm up before practice and competition, and that same philosophy of injury prevention can be applied to regular daily activities. Stretching before work and gradually increasing the amount of effort and exertion may help prevent muscle and joint injury. Everybody is an athlete in their own way, and it is just as important to warm up before shoveling snow, mowing the grass, or vacuuming, as it is before playing basketball or golf. Moreover, exercises and stretches that strengthen the muscles that are used in routine activities can help minimize the risk of future injury.

What is the prognosis of sprains and strains?

The goal for treating a strain or sprain is to return the patient to their normal level of physical activity. Whether that can be accomplished and the time frame for recovery depends upon the specific injury. An arm muscle strain may get better with RICE in one to two days and a sprained ankle may take two to four weeks. However, a torn knee ACL, which is really a grade 3 sprain, may need surgery and a tear of physical therapy and rehabilitation.

It is important to discuss with your health care professional or therapist, their expectations as to how long they think your specific injury will take to get better.

Where can people find more information about sprains and strains?

Your primary care doctor is an important resource for information regarding muscle and joint injuries. Physical therapists and chiropractors rehabilitate people with these injuries.

Local hospitals and health clubs will have literature and information about injury prevention and healthy lifestyles that may minimize the risk of a strain or sprain. They may also have exercise and stretching classes including yoga and pilates to help with injury prevention.

Medically reviewed by Aimee V. HachigianGould, MD; American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery


McPhee, S.J., M. Papdakis, and M.W. Rabow. Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment, 50th ed. New York: McGraw Hill Medical, 2011.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/14/2014

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