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Everyone has heard the medical axiom that strains and sprains can be worse than breaks. This is true primarily because when the body experiences a bone break the affected area of the body becomes immobile. With strains and sprains, pain is present, but extensive damage can be done because the body is still able to flex, bend and move. Movement of an injured area can result in great internal damage and possible irreversible harm.
Whereas breaks and tears are obvious, sprains and strains are not. Bones and muscles are joined through complex rubbery ligaments and tendons that allow the body to flex and bend in an incredible number of ways. Each joint, ligature and sliding muscle fiber has a natural pliability factor and range of motion. When exertion is made that pushes these mechanisms beyond their capability, stress points occur along their surfaces.
Think about landing on the side off your foot when jumping or climbing. No break occurs, but tremendous pain follows. The sideways jolt causes the ligaments and muscles in the feet to extend beyond their normal range of motion and rupture. The danger is that while there is sharp pain, motion is still possible. During the time it takes for the brain and body to register that an injury like a sprain or strain has occurred, concurrent mobility may exasperate the injury itself.
When a sprain or strain happens, the first sign after the initial pain is bruising and swelling of the affected areas. This is due to an immune response by the body to channel fluids into the injured area for protection. Most of the fluid is nutrient-rich blood which immediately saturates the injured body part with plasma and hemoglobin.
The area swells and darkens in an attempt to signal that rest and immobility is required. Unfortunately, humans are built for motion. Sprains and strains do not signal the human body to sit still. In fact, they most likely cause explosive reactions and “fidgetiness.”
Humans are designed to be in motion and that is why sprains and strains seem to pale in comparison with a bone break or dislocation. In fact, the opposite is true. The best remedy for sprains and strains is elevation and traction combined with contrast baths of hot and cold. If an anti-inflammatory safe topical pain reliever such as Super Blue Stuff OTC is available, it should be utilized and will greatly aid in the reduction of post-trauma swelling and decrease overall healing time.