What is a sprain?
A sprain, referred to by the physician as distortion (lat., For distortion, distortion), is a joint injury caused by overstretching of the joint capsule and the stabilizing ligaments. The joint capsule is a tight, connective tissue sheath that surrounds the joint and, similar to a pouch, prevents the articular surfaces from disengaging.
Particularly stressed areas are also stabilized by belts. In extreme cases, ligaments or capsule may even tear. In most cases, a sprain is accompanied by bleeding in and around the joint. Other possible concomitant injuries are: detachment or displacement of the articular cartilage, concomitant soft tissue injuries, nerve damage. A fresh sprain manifests itself as pain, swelling, pressure pain, bruising (this can occur up to 12 hours later).
Most common is a sprain of the foot. The classic injury scenario here: A kinking of the foot over the outer edge with simultaneous rotation of the body to the outside. The kinked foot can not follow the rotation of the body, so that is pulled on the joint capsule and the stabilizing ligaments, which prevent the articular surfaces of the tibia and lower leg from disengaging.
Sprays of sports such as tennis, basketball or football are particularly common. Also often affected are knees and hands, but in principle a corresponding injury is conceivable on almost all joints. Risk factors for a sprain are: The practice of high-risk sports, especially at too high a level of performance or without sufficient warm-up, lack of coordination, a generally poor state of training with insufficiently trained muscles.
But also earlier injuries of the ligamentous apparatus at the corresponding joint. Even slight sprains can, if they occur more often, lead to a pronounced instability of the joint - this is referred to as the dorsal joint. The worn-out capsule-ligament apparatus also affects the joint mechanics, which exposes the articular cartilage to increased stress and can accelerate the process of wear (osteoarthritis). Therefore, even in insignificant injuries rather once too often a specialist should be visited to minimize consequential damage.
Symptoms, complaints & signs
A sprain is a rather painful and unpleasant thing, usually accompanied by fairly typical and clear symptoms. Affected persons hear immediately after the sprain a strong pain that persists even when at rest. A normal movement is therefore not possible with a sprain.
In some particularly severe cases, a swelling is visible that becomes visible to the naked eye. A permanent cooling can eliminate this symptom of a sprain. Anyone who visits a doctor directly with these symptoms can expect a quick and complete cure. However, those who refrain from a curing and drug treatment must expect a significant aggravation of the individual symptoms.
The pain increases considerably and under certain circumstances an inflammation of the nerve tracts is possible. In particularly bad cases even permanent consequential damages are possible if the visit to the doctor is postponed. A sprain usually has clear symptoms, so often a self-diagnosis can be done.
In order to bring about an improvement or elimination of the symptoms, an appropriate treatment must be essential. Otherwise, the complaints increase and threaten permanent damage.
The injury or sprain is followed by a first phase in which the tissue swells, a bruise forms, and so on. After 48 hours at the latest, this phase is completed. A medical examination should take place as early as possible. For example, after just 6 hours, a "recorded name", ie an X-ray, in which the joint is fixed in the same position in which it also came to be injured, no longer makes sense.
The additional stress on the joint could lead to further injuries. In the following 4-6 weeks, the destroyed tissue is regenerated so that the injury is usually considered cured after 6 weeks.
A simple sprain usually causes no complications. However, the distortion often occurs in the context of combination injuries - this slows down the healing process. For example, if there is a complete torn ligament, it may take up to twelve weeks for the sprain to completely decay.
If, in addition to the sprain, capsule ligaments are torn, they may grow scarred together and lead to malpractices and other complications. The sprain itself can also cause poor posture. As a result, there may then be joint wear or chronic pain. Failure to treat the sprain adequately can result in chronic instability of the joints.
Especially sprains on the foot always cause late effects, as the leg is exposed to extreme daily stress and healing of the injury is thus often not completely possible. But surgery also involves risks.
It can lead to nerve injuries, infections and wound healing disorders. The administration of analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs carries additional risks, as side effects and interactions can not be ruled out. In the worst case, severe allergic reactions occur after taking a drug.
When should you go to the doctor?
If limb discomfort appears after a minor accident or injury, the health impairment should continue to be monitored. If it comes to a few minutes already to alleviate relief or within half an hour to a complaint, no doctor is needed.
In these cases, the self-healing powers of the organism in an adequate form have contributed to an improvement of the situation as well as recovery. In case of an increase in complaints or persistent irregularities, a doctor should be consulted. Swelling, changes in the appearance of the skin or impairments of mobility should be examined and treated. Worrying is a blue color of the affected region.
Loss of physical strength, decreased performance and skin sensory disturbances are further signs of an existing disease. A physician must be consulted to arrange and perform various tests to resolve the cause. Diagnosis is often only possible after imaging procedures have been applied and clarify the condition of the skeletal system.
If sporting activities can no longer be carried out as usual or if there are problems coping with everyday life, the person concerned needs help. Restrictions on the grasping function of the hands, problems of joint activity and disorders of locomotion indicate irregularities of the skeleton. They are to be examined by a doctor.
Treatment & Therapy
First and foremost measure after a failure should be the application of the PECH rule. This refers to a total of 4 first aid measures:
1. immobilization to protect the joint and avoid further injuries.
2. Ice for cooling. The actual direct contact application of ice should be avoided. Mild cooling above freezing is recommended to reduce swelling and reduce pain. Cool packs should rather be stored in the fridge than in the freezer compartment.
3. compression (or compression), also to limit the swelling. This can be done at the accident site by simply pressing, later, a pressure bandage should be created.
4. High-altitude storage. Another measure against the swelling. High-altitude body parts should be located above the patient's heart if possible.
For mild sprains usually no doctor must be consulted. The affected body part should be protected and stored as often as possible. Compression bandages on the injured joint help the body accelerate the healing process. Cooling envelopes or warm pads with essential oils or green tea also help to relieve the sometimes severe pain.
In the pharmacy, there are over-the-counter pain relieving creams, also on a homeopathic basis, which also promote healing. It may take several months for the joint to be fully loaded again after a sprain. For moderate exercise, supportive bandages should initially be worn to protect the joint as much as possible.
If severe sprains cause severe pain or even bleeding, a doctor should be consulted. This can be detected by imaging techniques, such as X-rays or ultrasound, a possible fracture or ligament injury, which usually have to be treated surgically.
Of course, what measures the patient can take depends on the severity of the sprain. Protection is absolutely advisable, supportive walking aids or special sports shoes can be used. Corresponding physiotherapy can also help the patient to mobilize the affected body part as quickly as possible.
You can do that yourself
A sprain should be examined by a doctor to rule out serious fractures or nerve injuries. Slight sprains can be treated by treating the affected body part. Regular high-altitude storage and the use of compression bandages support the healing process of the bone.
For pain, cool envelopes help. Later, warm pads with essential oils or home remedies such as green tea can be used to relieve the pain. Alternatively, pain relieving creams from the pharmacy or the homeopathy cabinet offer.
After a sprain, it takes a few months for the joint to be fully loaded again. Before that, gentle training is recommended, with supportive bandages worn. For severe sprains, a visit to a doctor is recommended. This also applies if bleeding, intense pain or other injuries occur.
If the ligaments are injured, surgery is often necessary. What action the affected person can take in this case depends on the location and severity of the sprain. General measures such as protection and supportive physiotherapy are indicated. Special running shoes or bracers support the affected limb, thereby also contributing to a speedy recovery.