When To Call A Professional
If you injure a joint, call your doctor immediately if the joint:
Becomes very painful or swollen
Has lost its normal contours, looks deformed or has misaligned bones
Feels unstable or loose
Is unable to carry its normal load - for example, if your leg cannot bear weight
Has a change in its normal range of motion - for example, you can't stretch out your knee or you can't bend your wrist
The outlook is generally good for most Grade I or Grade II sprains. Overall, 80% to 90% of patients recover fully, depending on the specific ligament that was injured. Although most Grade III sprains also heal well, there may be a greater risk for troublesome long-term symptoms, especially chronic joint pain, persistent swelling or some limitation of joint function.
Also, as a long-term complication, some patients with sprains eventually develop symptoms of osteoarthritis in their injured joint. These symptoms may not start until 10 to 15 years after the initial injury.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Information Clearinghouse 1 AMS Circle Bethesda, MD 20892-3675 Phone: (301) 495-4484 Toll-Free: (877) 226-4267 Fax: (301) 718-6366 TTY: (301) 565-2966 http://www.niams.nih.gov/
National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC) 4200 Forbes Boulevard Suite 202 Lanham, MD 20706 Phone: (301) 459-5900 http://www.naric.com/naric/
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) 6300 North River Rd. Rosemont, IL 60018-4262 Phone: (847) 823-7186 Toll-Free: (800) 346-2267 Fax: (847) 823-8125 http://www.aaos.org/
National Athletic Trainers' Association 2952 Stemmons Freeway Dallas, TX 75247-6196 Phone: (214) 637-6282 Fax: (214) 637-2206 http://www.nata.org/
American Physical Therapy Association 1111 North Fairfax St. Alexandria, VA 22314-1488 Phone: (703) 684-2782 Toll-Free: (800) 999-2782 Fax: (703) 684-7343 http://www.apta.org/