Sprains are the first and foremost sports injuries most commonly reported by athletes and hobbyists alike. It matters little if the injury is brought on by a moment of inattentiveness, a failure to properly warm up before beginning a strenuous exercise regimen, or simply making the wrong move at the wrong time. Sprains are also common to everyday activities, and something as mundane as loading the groceries into the back of the car can easily lead to a back sprain; stepping out of the car could be indicative of the risk of an ankle sprain, and turning out and up may lead to a shoulder sprain.
When sprains do occur, the first few minutes and hours after the injury count the most. As soon as possible, the weight placed on the affected limb must be eased. At the same time, the use of cold packs or ice packs is an effective tool for reducing the swelling that is sure to occur on sites of sprains. If this is left untreated, the odds are good that the increase in swelling will serve to keep the pain radiating through the body for a prolonged period of time. Once a series of cold pack treatments has been administered, it is time to support the limbs that contain the sprains.
This may be done with the help of elastic tape, sports, tape, or in a pinch even crepe paper. The goal is to provide a modicum of support while at the same time avoiding the accumulation of swelling that is so germane to the suffering of sprains. There is no substitute for this step and although it is tempting to simply continue on with the cold treatments, failure to also use the bandages or athletic tape can result in a quick reinjuring of the affected limb.
The last component of effectively treating the sprains that are so easy to suffer is the use of elevation. While in the case of a back sprain this may be hard to do, in the case of elbow and ankle sprains, elevation of the limb is not as hard to accomplish. Foregoing this step leads to an accumulation of fluid in the joint, which in turn supports the swelling and therefore hinders the healing process. It is a wise choice to not forgo even this step, as failure to head the warnings of trainers and physicians alike can also heighten the risk of potential re-injury.