Date
23 July 2017
For sports professionals or active exercisers, sprain injuries must be treated promptly. Otherwise, repeated minor sprains may lead to severe complications. Photo: Internet
For sports professionals or active exercisers, sprain injuries must be treated promptly. Otherwise, repeated minor sprains may lead to severe complications. Photo: Internet

First aid for sprains: PRICE therapy

In high school, I was a keen basketball lover who played matches with my friends and classmates after school almost every day.

I learned that frequent vigorous exercise increases the chance of injuries. I often ended up with a sprained ankle.

But as long as I had some good rest, the joint would heal itself the following morning. That was true while I was young.

Now, however, I regret not having taken my sprain injuries seriously. My ankles would become mildly painful after I have walked some distance.

When a sprain is treated timely and properly, the treatment could relieve pain and swelling in the joint, and lower the likelihood of developing complications and becoming a recurring injury.

Such therapy could be summarised in the acronym PRICE.

Protection

Immediately check if you have brought along any protective or supportive gear, such as knee braces, wrist braces or lower back support belts. For lower limb sprains, it would be best to take walking aids like a walking cane or a hiking staff.

Rest

If you are still in the middle of the activity, you should stop at once or else it would worsen the sprain or intensify the tear on soft tissues. It would also extend the recovery time. While controlled and appropriately prescribed exercise would help healing during aftercare, you should rest the joint and put no weight on the injured area for the first 48 to 72 hours.

Ice therapy

Start icing the area with a cold pack as soon as possible in order to help limit swelling after an acute injury. Ice it for 15 to 20 minutes and apply four to eight times a day for the first 48 hours. Take breaks in-between each application as continuous icing could cause tissue damage.

For old or chronic sore joints, where there is only mild warming and swelling, heat therapy should be applied instead.

Compression

Bandage a sprained joint using elastic bandages to provide support and compression to the injured area which could help minimise swelling. The most convenient and effective support would be a pair of sports socks for cases of an acute sprained ankle or a foot sprain. If you wear high tube socks, you could tighten your trainers but be careful not make it too tight as it would upset blood circulation.

Elevation

Lift the injured limb above the heart using a backpack or towel whenever possible to help prevent or limit swelling.‎

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 4

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at english@hkej.com

JC/FC/RA

Registered physiotherapist in Hong Kong and Australia

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