Produced by Bupa's Health Information Team, January 2009.
This video is for adults with sprains or muscle strains.
Minor sprains and strains can be treated quickly and simply at home using the following method:
Protect your injury from further harm. For example, use an ankle support for a sprained ankle.
Try to rest your injury for the first 48 to 72 hours. Use crutches to help you get around if you need to. After this time, gradually re-introduce movement into the affected area.
Following an injury, apply ice, ice packs or a bag of frozen peas to the injured area. Never apply ice directly to your skin. Always wrap it in a damp towel first. Keep the ice in place for 15 to 20 minutes and then repeat every two to three hours. Try to apply ice for the first 48 to 72 hours after your injury, but only when you are awake. Never leave ice on while you are asleep. Also, don't use ice if you have skin disorders that reduce your ability to feel cold.
Compress the area by bandaging it to support the injury and help decrease swelling. You can use a simple elastic bandage to do this or an elasticated tubular bandage. It should fit snugly but not be too tight. Make sure you remove the bandage before going to sleep.
Next, try elevating your inured area above the level of your heart. This will help to control the swelling, use a pillow to keep the area raised, and try to keep it elevated as much as possible until the swelling goes down.
For the first 72 hours after an injury there are certain things you must not do. These can be remembered by using HARM.
H stands for heat. Don't use heat packs, hot water bottles or heat rubs on the affected area, as well as saunas or hot baths. Heat encourages blood to flow to the area, the opposite affect of using ice.
A is for alcohol. Don't drink alcohol because it can increase bleeding and swelling to the area, slowing down the healing process.
R is for running or any other form of strenuous exercise, such activities may cause more damage.
Finally, don't massage the area. This can increase bleeding and swelling.
Minor sprains and strains can be treated quickly and simply at home by remembering PRICE and HARM.
However, if your symptoms are severe, for example if you are in a lot of pain, the injured part of your limb is extremely swollen or misshapen, or you can't bear weight on it, you should see your GP or go to your nearest accident and emergency department.
This video is intended for general information only. It shows an example of one person’s experience. Your circumstances may be different so not everything may apply to you. It does not replace the need for personal advice from a medical practitioner.
This information was published by Bupa's Health Information Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition. The content is intended only for general information and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional. For more details on how we produce our content and its sources, visit the About our Health Information page.
Publication date: January 2009