Sprains and strains are like close cousins in the world of injuries. How do you tell them apart? A sprain involves ligaments at a joint, and strains involve muscles. If a muscle is injured near a joint it can be hard to tell a sprain from a strain. But since you would treat them both about the same it makes little difference whether you call your injury a sprain or a strain. Think of both ligaments and muscles as being made of hundreds of little fibers that are a bit like rubber bands.  Both sprains and strains involve over-stretching or a partial tearing of some of those hundreds of fibers. A sprain or a strain can happen not only in areas like your ankle, wrist or knee, but they can happen to your neck and back too. Both hurt, sometimes badly. The more you know, the more you can help yourself speed healing of a sprain/strain injury…

What you can do for yourself to speed healing of a sprain/strain:

As chiropractors we often get asked what a person should do for home treatment after an injury. Here is what you can do after a sprain/strain.

Whatever the cause of a sprain/ strain, right after the injury there will be inflammation with swelling, pain, and perhaps redness and increased warmth over the injured area. This initial  inflammation can last for the first 72 hours after your injury. Initial home treatment consists of limiting the pain and swelling by using the system known as RICE for rest, ice, compression and elevation.

  • Use ice packs for 15 minutes at a time or ice massage or cold water bathing 2 to 4 times a day for the first 2 to 3 days or until any obvious swelling has stopped.
  • Use compression with Kinesio Tape until swelling stops. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8efdbJAGOU
  • Use elevation until swelling stops. 

What you will need professional help with: joint re-alignment

Re-alignment is extremely important to speed healing of a sprain or strain because:

When you sprain/strain a joint it loses it’s normal movement and will continue to work improperly until it is re-aligned.

Realignment brings about a great sense of relief and speeds up healing in several ways

  •  Minimizes muscle loss and decrease of strength
  • Maintains bone strength
  • Stimulates ligament repair with stronger tissue than if you didn’t move the ligament
  • Minimizes formation of adhesions in the injured area
  • Maintains smooth movement and coordination, so you don’t keep re-injuring the area. (This can happen a lot with ankle sprains.)

Active range of motion exercises are taught after the swelling stops until there is return of full and painless range of motion. 

Long term repair to return to normal: stimulating ligaments and muscle fibers to minimize scar tissue

Whenever we have a sprain/strain our body’s first response is to re-model the injured area with scar tissue in the place of the damaged ligaments or muscles. This is a good emergency step to minimize a potential infection. But long term the scar tissue makes the area stiff and less flexible then it was before the injury.

We use Transverse Friction Massage and Fascial Manipulation to break up the scar tissue so that you don’t end up being stiff and brittle and likely to re-injure yourself.

The role of nutrition in healing:

Repair and regeneration of an injured or muscle or ligament can take a minimum of 6 weeks. And if you have a serious health issue such as diabetes or obesity it may take longer. The long term remodeling phase may last from 3 weeks to 12 months or more. The amount of time it takes depends upon your health and your nutrition in addition to the care that you receive. You can speed healing of a sprain or strain with the right nutrition.

In remodeling phase the ligaments’ collagen fibers need more vitamin C to repair and specialized proteins. Unfortunately medicines like  Advil, Aleve, aspirin and cortizone actually interfere with making good collagen to repair ligaments and muscles. So it would be wise to limit the use of these medications and boost intake of the proper nutrients to repair the hurt ligament or muscle.

Through each phase there are specific healing nutrients that can speed the process of repair. This is why we offer the appropriate nutrients at the appropriate time when dealing with a sprain/ strain injury in order to speed up proper healing. Appropriate high quality nutrients also ensure that the healed area will be strong as possible.

What you can do now that you know that we treat sprains and strains:

Whether your sprain/strain was to your knee or ankle, neck or back you can be helped by proper conservative care. Whether your injury was recent or has been bothering you for years you can be helped by our natural approach without drugs and without surgery.

For more information or to make an appointment please call 978-535-6155.