Sprains and Strains

Sprains and Strains


Although most of us will experience a sprain or a strain at some point in our lives, very few people know the difference between the two kinds of injuries. A strain is whats commonly referred to as a “pulled muscle. As its name implies, a strain occurs when a muscle is overstressed by too much weight or by overuse. The injured mus- cle fibers may go into spasm, form knots, or swell up. If you have a strained muscle, you may feel a sharp pain when you try to use it, or you may experience a dull throb in the affected area. When muscles knot or spasm, the pain can be constant and severe. The worst symptoms of a strain will usually subside after a week, but they may leave behind an ache that lingers as long as a month.

Sprains, contrary to what most people believe, are not the result of muscle injury. In this case, the damage is done to a ligament, which is a band of fibrous connective tissue that holds bones together at the joints. When a ligament is overstressed, it may tear or stretch out of its normal position. You may even hear a snapping or popping sound at the time of injury. Not surprisingly, sprains cause immediate, acute pain. Once the first shock of pain passes, it is replaced by swelling and extreme soreness and sensitivity. In most cases, putting weight on the affected joint is out of the ques- tion. With proper treatment, the swelling goes away after about a week, but you may have pain for several weeks longer. The joint will usually feel stiff for months to come.

Most strains and sprains respond well to rest and home care, but you should be alert for signs that your injury needs a doctors attention. If the pain is unbearable and if you cant move the joint, you may have a broken or fractured bone. Instead of going to bed, visit a doctors office or the emergency room. Other red flags are discolored joints or severe swelling that doesnt go down after a few days.

Although sprains and strains are quite common, you can reduce your chances of injuring a muscle or a ligament. First, get some exercise on a regular basis. People who dont use their muscles and bones regularly are far more prone to damaging them. Second, always warm up your muscles before engaging in an activity. Stretch gently and ease into the movement. Finally, use common sense: Dont lift objects that are too heavy for you, and dont participate in activities that are painful.




Acute pain when the muscle is in use

A dull throb at other times 

Muscle spasms or knots






Severe pain at time of injury, sub- siding into soreness


Joint discoloration (indicative of a serious sprain)





Overstressing muscles or liga- ments, usually through lifting, exercise, or by accident 

Imbalance in oppositional muscles

Nutritional deficiencies, making one more susceptible to injury


Emergency Care for Sprains and Strains


When you suspect that youve experienced a strain or a sprain, it helps to take quick action. The following simple techniques, if used immedi- ately after the injury, will promote  faster healing and can greatly reduce  the amount  and the dura- tion of pain.

1. If you experience severe pain, significant swelling, discoloration at the site, or any of the following symptoms, get to a doctor as soon as possible.  Be especially  careful with injuries to the wrist or the ankle; these body parts are relatively delicate  and vulnerable to fractures.

2. To reduce  swelling and pain, apply an ice pack or a cold compress  to the injured  area. In a pinch,  you can place some ice cubes in a plastic bag and then wrap the package  up in a clean towel. You can even use a box of

frozen vegetables.  Just be sure that the ice doesnt touch your skin directly; otherwise, you’ll have a sprain or a strain and frostbite. Keep the cold pack on for twenty minutes, then take a ten-minute break before reapply- ing.

3. To the extent possible,  elevate the injured area so that its higher than your heart. This allows blood to ow away from the site and decreases swelling.

4. Continue  elevation  and cold applications for the next day or two, and then alternate  cold and warm applications. You no longer need to apply cold as often as in the first hour and a half after the injury; simply apply it inter- mittently as needed. If the swelling has not gone down significantly after this time, see a doctor. 



You might not think of diet as an important part of healing an injury, but good nutri-

tional choices in the weeks following a sprain or a strain can speed your recovery and reduce your pain.


Recommended Food

You need lean protein to rebuild strong, elastic muscles and ligaments. Eat reasonable amounts of high-quality chicken, turkey, and fish, and incorporate beans into your meals.

An injury can result in the formation of free radicals, the unbalanced molecules that are thought to be responsible for many diseases. Combat free radicals with the antioxidants found in deeply colored fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin C will help to reduce swelling and repair tissues. Eat citrus fruits as a light dessert.


Testing Techniques


The following tests help assess possible reasons for the slow repair of sprains/strains:

Intestinal permeability—urine

Detoxification profile—urine

Vitamin and mineral analysis (especially magnesium, vitamin C, iron)—


Food to Avoid

You may be housebound and depressed following a sprain or a strain, but resist the temptation to console yourself with junk food. Fast food, processed food, fried food, and food thats high in salt and sugar will only make inflammation and swelling worse.



Double-blind trials have shown that prote- olytic enzymes, such as bromelain, papain,  and trypsin/chy- motrypsin, speed the recovery of

Super Seven Prescriptions—Sprains/Strains


Super Prescription #1    Bromelain

Take 500 mg three times daily between meals. Look for products standardized to

2,000 M.C.U. (milk-clotting units) per 1,000 mg or 1,200 G.D.U. (gelatin-dissolv- ing units) per 1,000 mg. Bromelain has a natural anti-inflammatory effect. Protease enzyme products also have this benefit (chymotrypsin, trypsin, fungal-derived protease).

Super Prescription #2    Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

Take 1,000 mg three to four times daily. This supplement has potent anti-inflam- matory effects and is a natural source of the mineral sulfur, which promotes liga- ment and tendon health. athletic injuries.                

Super Prescription #3    Vitamin C

Take 1,000 mg two to three times daily. Vitamin C is required for the formation of connective tissue and has anti-inflammatory benefits.

Super Prescription #4    DMSO

Consult with a doctor to use this pain-relieving substance topically for pain relief.

Super Prescription #5    Boswellia (Boswellia serrata)

Take 1,200 to 1,500 mg of standardized extract containing 60 to 65 percent boswellic acids two to three times daily. This herb has a strong anti-inflammatory effect.

Super Prescription #6    Arnica (Arnica montana) oil

Apply to the injured site twice daily. This herbal oil reduces pain, bruising, and swelling. Do not use on broken skin.

Super Prescription #7    Essential fatty acids

Take 1 to 2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil or 5 grams of fish oil daily, or take a for- mulation that contains a mixture of omega-3, 6, and 9 fatty acids. Essential fatty acids reduce inflammation and promote tissue healing.



General Recommendations


A high-potency multivitamin supplies a host of vitamins and minerals required for ligament and tendon healing. Take as directed on the container.

A cool compress made with comfrey will ease pain and swelling.

White willow bark (Salix alba) is a natural pain reliever that doesnt have the side effects of aspirin and other over-the-counter drugs. Find an extract standardized for salicin content, and take 30 to 60 mg twice a day. If you prefer to use a tincture, take

1 to 2 cc three times daily.

Silica (Silicea) extract is important for connective tissue healing. Take 500 mg three times daily.

Glucosamine sulfate provides the raw materials known as glycosaminoglycans that are required by the body to manufacture ligaments and tendons. Take 1,500 mg daily.

Hyaluronic acid supplies substances that are required for ligament and tendon heal- ing. Take 150 mg daily or as directed on the container.



Pick the remedy that best matches your symptoms in this section. For acute sprain/strains, take a 30C potency four times daily. For chronic sprains/strains that have not healed, take a 6x, 12x, 6C, 12C, or 30C twice daily for two weeks to see if there are any positive results. After you notice improvement, stop taking the remedy, unless symptoms return. Consultation with a homeopathic practitioner is advised.

Arnica (Arnica montana) is helpful at the beginning of an injury, when there is bruising and swelling.

Bryonia Alba should be used when there is pain from any movement. The person feels irritable from the pain.

Calcarea Fluorica is indicated for chronic sprains and strains that do not heal, or for people who are susceptible to getting these types of injuries due to weak ligaments or tendons.

Ledum Palustre is for sprained ankles or knees that are swollen and that feel bet- ter with ice applications.

Rhus Toxicodendron should be used for injuries that cause stiffness, especially dur- ing the first movement, but that loosen up later in the day. The injury feels better from warm applications.

Ruta (Ruta graveolens) is for overused ligaments and sprains that result in swelling and a lame feeling in the joint.





To relieve pain and relax your muscles, use Gallbladder 20.

Kidney 3 will reduce pain in either ankle.

If youve strained your lower back, use Bladder 60.





Work the area that corresponds to the injured body part. Obviously, you should not practice reflexology on a hand or a foot that has been injured.



Once the swelling has gone down, you can soak the injured part in warm water to relieve pain.


Other  Bodywork  Recommendations

Avoid putting weight on an injured joint or muscle, but do keep mobile. After the swelling is down and any acute pain has passed, try to work the body part through its range of motion. Youll help prevent stiffness.



After the swelling has subsided, try a combination of eucalyptus, peppermint, and lavender to stimulate a nourishing ow of blood to the area and reduce pain. You can use these oils in a warm bath or a compress.

Stress Reduction


General Stress-Reduction Therapies

If youre usually an active person, it can be terribly frustrating to spend days or even weeks laid up with an injury. Keep your stress levels down by meditating on a regu- lar basis.



Bach Flower Remedies


Select the appropriate remedy, and place 10 drops of the liquid under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.

When youre confronted with a physical crisis like a sprain or strain, take Rescue

Remedy. Its calming to the body and the mind and allows healing to begin.

If an injury has left you feeling irritable and impatient with other people, take


Gentian will help if you are easily depressed when faced with a setback.

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