On the Mend: How to Treat a Sprain


Sprains and strains are common injuries for people of all ages. We talked to our physical therapy experts about what to do in the first few days after you experience an injury like this.

If you experience a sprain or strain from exercise or another activity, the first few days are often the most painful. Brendan Ryder, PT with Renown Physical Therapy & Rehab, walked us through what to do after an injury.

Listen to Your Body

See a medical professional right away if:
• You know or suspect that a bone is broken
• You know or suspect a joint is bent or twisted
• Pain or swelling is severe
• There’s sign of an infection, such as redness and warmth in the infected area or you have a fever

New Insights on Ice

During the first 24-72 hours, your injury will go through an inflammation phase. Inflammation is your body’s natural way to dispose of dead tissue cells, build healthy nutrients and begin healing. “Research is showing that excessive use of ice delays healing by slowing the flow of nutrients to the area,” says Ryder.

You can use ice as needed for comfort and to relieve the pain, but do not use ice for more than 15-20 minutes at a time.

Early Mobility Phase

After a sprain or strain, your joint often becomes stiff and you may experience reduced range of motion. To help work through this, Ryder recommends some early, gentle movement after an injury. Examples would include toe curls or ankle pumps for an ankle. For other injuries, try gently moving the joint through its normal range of motion. During this, you might feel some stiffness, but if you experience pain, stop immediately.

If injury or pain persists after several days, you may want to schedule a follow-up visit with your doctor.

Hometown Health and Renown Health are proud to be the official insurance plan and healthcare partners of the Nevada Wolf Pack.

Renown Physical Therapy & Rehab

Through outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy, Renown Physical Therapy & Rehab gives patients hands-on, individualized treatment. Our therapists use evidence-based methods to help patients return to an active, productive lifestyle.

To learn more about our four locations around Reno and Sparks, visit renown.org/PhysicalTherapy or call 775-982-5001.