Treating Strains and Sprains

Joint Health

Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

Important Note: Do not give aspirin to children or teens.

Strains and sprains happen when muscles or other soft tissues near your bones stretch or tear. These injuries can cause bruising, swelling, and pain. To ease your discomfort and speed the healing of your strain or sprain, follow the tips below. Remember, a strain or sprain can take 6 to 8 weeks to heal.

To help reduce pain and swelling, ice, wrap, and raise the injured area.

Ice First, Heat Later

  • Use ice for the first 24-48 hours after injury. Ice helps prevent swelling and reduce pain. Ice the injury for no more than 20 minutes at a time.
  • Apply heat after the first 48 hours. Heat relaxes muscles and increases blood flow. Soak the injured area in warm water or use a heating pad set on low for no more than 15 minutes at a time.

Wrap and Elevate

  • Wrap an injured limb firmly with an elastic bandage. This provides support and helps prevent swelling. Don’t wear an elastic bandage overnight.
  • Elevate the injured area to help reduce swelling and throbbing. It’s best to raise an injured limb above the level of your heart.


  • Over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen can help reduce pain. Some also help reduce swelling.
  • Take medications only as directed.
  • Rest the area even if medications are controlling the pain.


  • Rest the injured area by not using it for 24 hours.
  • When you’re ready, return slowly to your normal activities. Rest the injured area often.
  • Don’t use or walk on an injured limb if it hurts.

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