Sprains are one of the most common reason people will present to a Sports Medicine physician. Of all the soccer and football injuries I see on a weekly basis, over 20% are due to a sprain.
The most common sprains we see affect the:
A sprain implies that a ligament has been injured. Ligaments are very strong tissues in our body that hold two bones together. We literally have thousands of ligaments in our body, but the ligaments of the ankle and the knee seem to be the most commonly injured.
When you sprain a ligament you have stretched it. That stretch may simply cause some bleeding or swelling, or it might actually tear the ligament. If the ligament tears, it can be a partial tear, or a complete tear. We grade these injuries by assigning them a number. So a severe ankle sprain where the ligament is completely torn is called a grade 3 injury, whereas a mild sprain will be called a Grade 1 injury.
Many sprains in our body will heal uneventfully. They may take a lot longer to heal than you like… but they will heal. Some severe sprains will go on to require surgery, but that is very rare.
Some sprains will require physical therapy to help you get your range of motion and strength back, while other sprains will simply require a short period of rest and some gently stretching on your own.
If you sustain a sprain, and your pain is severe, your joint feels loose or unstable, or the severe pain persists for more than a week consider seeing a Sports Medicine doctor.