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Sprain, General Info

The most common sprain in mountain biking is a sprained wrist, caused by landing on the outstretched hands during a forward fall. Sprained ankles can occur during a dismount onto uneven terrain, with the ankle inverting (twisting inward). Sprained fingers result from catching oneself on the fingertips during a forward fall. Sprains of the knees are uncommon in biking.

Click here for specific information on: ankle sprain, finger sprain, knee sprain, wrist sprain.

A sprain is a stretching injury to ligaments (the bands of tough tissue that control which direction joints can bend). A minor sprain may swell slightly, but does not significantly interfere with using the injured part. Bruising in the area of the sprain indicates tearing of ligament tissue. Sprains can be serious if the ligament is ruptured. The most commonly sprained joints are the ankle, knee, and wrist.

Sprained ankle, caused by stepping off the bike onto a rock, with inversion of the foot.

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A serious sprain can take a long time to heal. It can leave the ankle weak. If there are signs of serious injury, you should have the doctor help you.

See the doctor if:
    there's deformity or severe swelling
    the part can't be used normally after an hour of rest
    you can't move the joint fully
    there's continued severe pain
    there's numbness or weakness below the injured area.

Immediate care:
The treatment of a sprain is "RICE:" Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. Immediately elevate the injured part and apply an ice bag. Once the area is thoroughly cooled, apply an elastic wrap to compress the injury.

Ongoing care:
For the first 48 hours, repeat ice and elevation 1/4 of the time (for example, 30 minutes of ice every two hours). As the pain subsides, return to activities. The rule is: "If it hurts, don't do it." You can usually stop using the elastic wrap after 2 to 3 days.

Watch for:
If the injured area doesn't improve promptly, see the doctor.

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