Sprains are damage to ligaments, which connect bones together. Strains are damage to muscles or to tendons, which connect muscles to bones. Sprains and strains damage can range from mild, where you stretched the joint a little to much, to severe, which complete tears.
Both sprains and strains should be treated with the RICE protocol:
- Rest the injured area
- Ice the injured area (never putting ice directly on skin)
- Compress the injured area with an elastic bandage
- Elevate the injury above the heart
Mild sprains and strains may be treated at home, but if you are worried you have broken a bone or caused other damage, seek medical care. Your doctor can also fit with you a boot, crutches, brace, or other medical equipment to help you heal.
For worse sprains and strains, physical therapy may be necessary to get your joint back to normal.