Sports Medicine: Sprains

A Spine Center physician reviews an X-ray.


What is a sprain?

A sprain is the stretching or tearing of a ligament, which is the strong band of connective tissue between bones. There are different degrees of sprains, from mild (Grade 1), with little or no instability; incomplete or moderate (Grade 2), with some looseness in the joint; or severe (Grade 3), with a completely torn ligament that makes it impossible to use the joint. (A strain is a similar injury, but in a muscle.)


Sprains most commonly occur in wrists, ankles, and knees. You may experience pain, inflammation, and numbness; there may be visible bruising.


The most common cause of a sprain is a fall or hit that causes part of your body to be suddenly out of its normal position. People get ankle sprains by tripping over a step or walking on an uneven surface; you can twist your knee in a fall; if you fall and try to catch yourself by throwing out your hand, you can end up with a twisted wrist or finger that results in a sprain.

If you play sports, you should always make sure to do a proper warm-up before you start; this will loosen your joints and make them less susceptible to sprains. Tiredness is also a factor; be aware of pushing yourself past your limits, because that causes undo stress on your body and can affect your awareness of your physical surroundings as well.


“As with many other injuries, you can help start a sprain healing with rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help. If your pain is severe or you really can’t use the affected joint, your doctor may take an MRI to evaluate the damage or an x-ray to rule out a fracture,” says William Sayde, MD, an orthopedic physician at OINJ. “For a severe sprain, you may need the joint immobilized; a brace for your knee or wrist or an ankle cast may be in order. And if you’ve torn your ligament, surgery may be indicated.”

“In any case, rehabilitation is critical, as is timing,” says Dr. Sayde. “You need to wait long enough to rest the joint, but not so long that you’re allowing scar tissue to build up and limit mobility permanently. Physical therapy will target the area with the appropriate strength and mobility exercises so that you can recover your range of movement properly.”

Why Choose The Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey

At OINJ, board certified physicians work collaboratively to come up with the best solutions for you. Using innovative techniques and the most up-to-date research and technologies available, our specialists have one goal: to get you back into the best of orthopedic health. We work with each other, as well as with other partners in your care, to develop the treatment plan that will work for you.

Our multiple office locations that can be reached by one centralized call center make it easy to schedule and get to appointments, and we treat patients of all ages with injuries and orthopedic conditions of all kinds.

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Featured Physician

William Sayde, MD – Orthopedic Physician

Dr. Sayde completed his sports medicine fellowship at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore and at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC. He did his residency in orthopedic surgery at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. He earned both his bachelor’s and medical degrees from an accelerated combined scientist/physician BS/MD program at Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York and Albany Medical College.

Before joining OINJ, Dr. Sayde served as assistant team physician for the Baltimore Ravens, the Washington Nationals, and the Morgan State University and Towson University teams in 2014 and 2015.

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The Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey is a premier multi-disciplinary center offering complete orthopedic care, rehabilitation and pain management services to patients of all ages and activity levels using a customized treatment plan to fit individual needs.

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