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In the city of Atlanta, a sprain is the tearing or stretching of any ligament that supports a joint. Sprains and strains are often words that are used interchangeably, but they are two very different injuries. Each may be caused by repetitive activities or by trauma such as that sustained in a vehicle collision, a slip and fall accident, or other type of accident.

A sprain is diagnosed during a physical examination. A sprain may be confirmed by some type of imaging like an X-ray, an MRI or a CT scan. Many sprains are simply diagnosed through a patient’s history, a description of the symptoms and accident, and a physical examination. Symptoms include pain, particularly when using the affected joint, and swelling. Bruising may also be involved.

Doctors typically use the term RICE when providing initial treatment. This means rest, ice, compression and elevation. A patient will be told to rest the joint, apply ice and compression, and to keep the area elevated. Most sprains resolve with this treatment, though some may require surgery and/or physical therapy to heal properly.

Any person who believes they may have sprained a ligament should seek medical attention. A minor sprain will be treated in a different way that a major or severe one. While some sprains can be treated through home-care, some require more serious attention and intervention.

When a person sustains a sprain in an accident, the at-fault party may be legally responsible for compensation. An experienced personal injury attorney can help a victim determine if this applies to their situation.