From ArticleWorld

A sprain is a ligament injury caused by sudden overstretching of the ligament. In general, the ligament is just stretched a bit, but snapping, torns and ruptures may occur.

Sprains can vary in severity, and, although the symptoms may provide some hints about the severity of the injury, a magnetic resonance imaging examination is the only one that can provide a complete image. A sprain of 1 degree shows only a minor damage of the ligaments, while a 3 degree means a complete rupture.

Symptoms and treatment

All joints are exposed to such an injury, but the most vulnerable are the fingers, knees and ankles. Sprains are common in athletes, who are especially vulnerable to sprains of the knee's anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which takes a long time to heal.

Symptoms include a swelling and severe pain, associated with a loss of function or extreme pain when trying to use the damaged joint.

Ice should be immediately applied to reduce swelling, and the affected area should not be moved. A bandage or a splint can help in these cases. The damaged joint should be kept elevated, above the heart's level, at all times, and rested for several days. Pain relievers can be administrated. Pressure should not be applied to the injured joint until the pain disappears. Rehabilitation therapy should begin as soon as possible.