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STS First Aid guide to treating sprains


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STS First Aid guide to treating sprains. Helping you get back to enjoying your holidays!

As the summer is in full swing we are all running around more and invariably we start to see more injuries crop up. One common problem is a sprained or strained ankle so we have put together the STS First Aid guide to treating a sprain that will help get you or your casualty back into action as soon as possible.



The main indicators for a strain or sprain are:

  • Pain

  • Loss of power

  • Swelling or bruising

  • Tenderness

Minor fractures can be mistaken for sprains and strains. If you are not sure, treat the injury as a broken bone. Applying ice, however, will still help reduce swelling and pain. The only way to rule out a fracture is by x-ray. As you are reading an article on strains and sprains, we will assume you are confident it is a sprain or strain and move on to types of sprain and treatment!


Types of sprain.

types of injury


Ankles are made up of three bones with ligaments (tough, stretchy tissue that hold the bones together). The ligaments help stop the ankle joint from moving around too much.

Ankle sprains usually happen when there is a sudden movement or twist – often when the foot rolls over – and the ligaments are overstretched. This causes tears and bleeding (which show as bruising and swelling) around the ankle joint. These movements are more likely to happen when a person is running, jumping or quickly changing direction e.g. in sports such as basketball, netball or football.

It doesn’t change how you treat them but it is good to know the difference between a sprain and a strain; Sprains are a  torn or twisted ligament (tissue that connects the joints). They most commonly occur in the wrists, ankles, thumbs and knees. Strains are an overstretched or torn muscle (also known as a pulled muscle). They are most common in: knees, feet, legs and back.


How to treat a sprain.

If it’s a severe sprain, contact 111 or your local GP but most can be treated at home without seeing a Doctor. To aid recovery, for the first couple of days, you can follow the 4 steps known as RICE therapy to help bring down swelling and support the injury:

  • Rest – stop any exercise or activities and try not to put any weight on the injury.

  • Ice – apply an ice pack (or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a tea towel) to the injury for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.

  • Compression – wrap a bandage around the injury to support it.

  • Elevate – keep it raised on a pillow as much as possible.

To help prevent swelling, try to avoid heat (such as hot baths and heat packs), alcohol and massages for the first couple of days. When you can move the injured area without pain stopping you, try to keep moving it so the joint or muscle does not become stiff. If needed, you can take ibuprofen tablets, capsules or syrup that you swallow. Always remember to read the label before administering.


What Else Should I Know?

Not overdoing things is key when it comes to sprains. So don’t push yourself or feel pressure to get back into sports or other activities too soon. Sprains usually heal well, but they need time to get fully better.


It’s ok to read about how to do these things but we always think the best way to learn is through face to face, practical training. At STS First Aid,  we have been training people for over 30 years. So if you would like to learn about first aid in more detail book one of our courses or call 020 8211 2054 to speak to one of our experts and they will help you understand what course is best for you.

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