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Joint Sprain or Ligament Damage

Joint sprains or ligament damage usually occurs with trauma or injury (usually a direct hit).

Common Signs & Symptoms

  • Twisting injury or direct trauma
  • A lump over the area of injury (Hematoma)
  • Swelling and pain
  • Bruising and limited movement of the joint near the injury
  • Weakness and stiffness
  • In severe cases:
    • Swelling and bleeding may cause shock
    • Broken bone, dislocated joint, sprain, torn muscle, or other injuries
    • Injury to your abdomen may damage internal organs

Description

Joint sprains or ligament damage usually occurs with trauma or injury (usually a direct hit). There is often bruising which is caused by damages to your veins or arteries - blood escapes and collects in your muscle and soft tissues. Bruises usually resolve over a couple of weeks (depending on the size of the bruise) so it you have pain which lasts longer than this time it may be an indication of damage to your joint or ligament.
Advice & Treatment

Your first step is to control the bleeding to prevent your bruise from spreading - compression and elevation of the area above your heart helps to limit the bleeding from veins or arteries. The RICE formula is best to follow:

The first 24-48 hours

Rest. Protect your injury from further damage by stopping play. If it is painful to walk you might benefit from using crutches
Ice - Place ice or a bag or frozen peas wrapped in a towel on the injures area - this helps to reduce your flow of blood to the injured area. Remove this after 10 minutes and repeat hourly for the first 24 waking hours
Compression. Wrap the injured area (if possible) in a soft bandage to keep pressure on the area. Make sure this is not too tight, you don't want to cut your blood flow off to your limb
Elevation. Raise the injured area to a level above the heart

LIgaments are the soft tissues which connect one bone to another so straining or snapping a ligament may lead to more stress on the joint. Your injury may heal quickly if you have stretched your ligament but may take longer to improve if you have broken a ligament. If you are still having problems 3-4 weeks following your injury you may need to see a physio to get some help.

After the first 48 hours and whilst you wait for it to heal, just keep gently exercising the area as long as you don't cause pain. Anti-inflammatory medication helps to control your pain and inflammation so just speak to your pharmacist for advice on which medication is best for you, especially if you are taking other medication.

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