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How to treat sprains and damage to tendons and ligaments.

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The accidental tearing or stretching of a tendon or ligament (tissues that connect bones at the joint) causes sprains. The signs and symptoms are pain, swelling, tenderness, and discoloration (black and blue).  You may feel a pop or tear when a sprain occurs.

When treating sprains, you should follow the letters in RICE as defined below:

R – Rest injured area.
I – Ice for 24 to 48 hours.
C – Compression-wrap or splint to help stabilize. If possible, leave the boot on a sprained ankle unless circulation is compromised.
E – Elevate the affected area.

Ligaments are the tough, fibrous bands that connect bones to other bones, and they help to stabilize joints. When a ligament is damaged, it can cause pain, swelling, and limited mobility.

If you have a sprain or ligament damage, it is important to take steps to help the ligament heal and reduce pain and swelling. Here are some steps you can follow:

  1. Rest the affected area: Avoid putting weight or pressure on the injured area. Resting the area will help prevent further damage and give the ligament time to heal. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may need to use crutches or a brace to protect the injured area and avoid putting weight on it.
  2. Ice the area: Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce swelling and pain. Wrap an ice pack in a towel and apply it to the area for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. You can also use a bag of frozen vegetables if you don’t have an ice pack.
  3. Compress the area: Wrapping the affected area with an elastic bandage can help reduce swelling and provide support. Be careful not to wrap the area too tightly, as this can restrict blood flow. If you have any numbness or tingling, loosen the bandage.
  4. Elevate the affected area: Raising the affected area above the heart can also help reduce swelling. Use pillows or a cushion to prop up the area. This is especially important during the first few days after the injury.
  5. Take pain medication: Over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce pain and inflammation. Follow the instructions on the label and do not take more than the recommended dose.
  6. See a doctor: If the pain and swelling do not improve after a few days, or if you are unable to put weight on the affected area, you should see a doctor. They may recommend physical therapy or other treatment options to help you recover. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the ligament.

Remember to take it slow and avoid putting too much stress on the affected area until it has fully healed. It is important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard, as this can cause further damage and delay your recovery.

NOTE: Ice is preferred for a sprain, but cold spring water may be more easily obtained in a survival situation.

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