The symptoms of a sprain are almost exactly the same as that of a broken bone. When in doubt, sprains should be treated the same as broken bones. The most common symptoms are:
- inability to move
- inability to bear weight on the joint
Time Required: May take up to 48 hours
Stay Safe. If you are not the victim, practice universal precautions and wear personal protective equipment if available.
- Do not call 911 for a sprain. NIAMS suggests visiting a doctor for a sprained joint if:
- it has severe pain
- victim unable to put any weight on it
- it looks different than uninjured joint (swelling doesn't count)
- victim can't move it
- victim can't walk more than four steps on it
- there is numbness in any part of it
- redness or red streaks spread out from the injury.
- it has been sprained several times before
- there is pain, swelling, or redness over a bony part of your foot
- Use the RICE method to treat the sprain.
- Rest the sprained joint by not placing weight on it. Use a cane or crutch on the uninjured side to lean away from the injury.
- Ice the sprain with an ice pack.
- Compress the sprain with an elastic bandage. Ask a healthcare provider to show you how to properly apply an elastic bandage.
- Elevate the sprain above the level of the heart as often as possible during the first 48 hours.