‘Sprain’ is a term widely used to describe an injury to a ligament. Injuries to these structures occur when a ligament is stretched beyond its physiological limits.

The degree of injury is further classified as a Grade I, II or III.

To better understand a sprain, lets review the function of a ligament. According to Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary a ligament is defined as:

“A band or sheet of strong fibrous connective tissue connecting the articular ends of bones serving to bind them together and to facilitate or limit motion.”

Grade I sprains are typically defined as a stretch or tear to a ligament under 20%, and take about one to two weeks to heal.

Grade II sprains can range from a 20% to about a 70% tear, and can take up to five to six weeks to heal.

Grade III sprains are the most sever and are commonly considered to be any tear beyond 70%. They typically require a surgical consultation, and take the longest to heal. Surgery may be necessary to correct the problem.

After the ligament is sprained there are four phases of healing/treatment. The type of treatment given should be according to what stage the injured structure is in.

Stage 1. This stage of healing starts right after the injury. There is an increase in blood flow to the area causing it to become inflamed. At this stage R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) is used to reduce pain and help control internal bleeding.

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