In this blog post we are going to talk about a very common injury in sports and in everyday life: sprains.

Sprains are injuries to the ligaments that bind the bones of a joint together. These injuries can vary in severity and can affect any joint in the body, although they are most common in the ankles, knees and wrists.


What causes them?

They are usually caused by excessive force or sudden movement that stretches or tears ligaments. Some common causes are:

– Ankle sprains: Ankle sprains are very common in sports that require sudden turns, jumps or changes of direction, such as football, basketball and volleyball.

– Knee blows: Knee sprains can be caused by direct blows to the joint or sudden changes in direction.

– Wrist sprains: Wrist sprains are common in sports that involve falls, such as skateboarding or snowboarding, or in everyday activities such as lifting heavy objects.


What are the symptoms?

Symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the injury. The most common symptoms are listed and explained below:

  1. Pain in the affected joint: Pain is the most common symptom associated with this injury. It can be sharp or dull, and may be felt in the affected joint or nearby areas. It may be made worse by physical activity or direct pressure on the affected area.
  2. Swelling and redness in the area: Fluid build-up in the affected area can cause swelling and make the joint feel warm to the touch.
  3. Bruising: Sprains can cause bruising in the affected area. Bruising is caused by the rupture of small blood vessels and can cause discolouration of the skin.
  4. Difficulty moving the joint and limitation of movement: These injuries can limit movement of the affected joint, which may be the result of pain, swelling or muscle weakness.
  5. Muscle weakness in the affected area: Weakness may be the result of the injury itself or as a result of pain and limited movement.
  6. Sensitivity to touch: Sprains can make the affected area sensitive to touch. This may be the result of inflammation or irritation of the nerves near the injury.
  7. Crepitus: In some cases, they can cause crepitus in the affected area.

It is important for physiotherapists to be aware of these symptoms and perform a thorough examination to determine the severity of the injury and develop an effective treatment plan.


What are the treatments?

Some of the most effective treatments for sprains are described below:

  1. Rest and protection: The first step in treatment is to limit activity and protect the injured joint. This may require the use of a splint or bandage to immobilise the affected area.
  2. Ice: Applying ice to the injured joint can help reduce swelling and pain. It is recommended to apply ice for 15-20 minutes, several times a day.
  3. Compression: An elastic bandage can be used to compress the affected area as compression can help reduce swelling and inflammation.
  4. Elevation: Elevating the injured area above the level of the heart can help reduce swelling and pain.
  5. Mobility exercises: Once the swelling and pain have subsided, mobility exercises can be performed to help restore range of motion and strength to the injured joint.
  6. Strengthening exercises: Once the joint has begun to heal, strengthening exercises can be performed to help prevent future injury and improve joint function.
  7. Massage: Massage can help relieve muscle tension and improve circulation to the affected area.
  8. Physical therapy: If the sprain is severe, it may be necessary to work with a physical therapist to design a comprehensive treatment plan that includes specific rehabilitation exercises and manual therapy techniques.

In conclusion, treatment for sprains can vary depending on the severity and location of the injury. However, the treatments mentioned above are some of the most effective in helping to relieve pain, reduce inflammation and restore function to the affected joint. As physiotherapists, it is important to know and apply these treatments properly to help patients fully recover from their injuries.


How can they be prevented?

Here are some ways to prevent sprains:

  1. Stretching and warming up before exercise: It is important to stretch and warm up your muscles before exercising to avoid injury. These should focus on the areas that will be used during exercise, such as the ankles, knees and wrists.
  2. Muscle strengthening: Keeping muscles strong and flexible is an excellent way to prevent injury. Muscle strengthening through resistance exercises can improve joint stability and reduce the risk of sprains.
  3. Wearing the right equipment: It is of great importance to wear the right equipment for the sport or activity you are doing (shoes, knee pads, supports…).
  4. Falling techniques: In contact sports, such as football or basketball, it is important to learn falling techniques to minimise the impact on the joints.
  5. Rest and recovery: After intense physical exertion, it is important to allow the body to rest and recover.
  6. Be aware of warning signs: Pay attention to warning signs of possible injury, such as pain or swelling. This way, you can take steps to prevent further injury.
  7. Visit a physiotherapist: Last but not least, visiting a physiotherapist can help you prevent injury. They can provide advice on how to prevent injury, perform gait assessments and offer specific exercises to strengthen and stretch muscles.



In conclusion, sprains are common injuries that can affect any joint in the body.

Physiotherapists have an important role to play in sprain recovery as they can help patients regain strength, flexibility and stability of the affected joint through specific exercises. They may also use manual therapy and electrotherapy techniques to reduce inflammation and pain in the affected area.

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