Sprains and strains: Management

Tennis elbow

Managing muscular sprains and strains

Fortunately, sprains and strains typically respond well to treatment.

Most injuries of this type will feel better after 2 weeks, although severe injuries may take several months to return to normal.1

Here we review the different approaches that could help your patient get back to enjoying their life.

Guideline recommendations for treating sprains and strains

Summary of NICE guidance on treating strains and sprains

Sprains and strains can be managed simply in the first 72 hours following the injury

According to guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), patients with sprains or strains should be advised to follow the PRICE and HARM protocols in the first few days after the injury.2

Man rubbing elbow

Analgesics can be used to relieve pain from sprains and strains

Paracetamol or topical medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) gels can be used for sprains and strains.2–4

Codeine can be added on, if prescribed.2

Oral NSAIDs can be considered 48 hours after the injury, if needed.2,4

Utilising physical therapy to improve outcomes

Massage and exercise

Physiotherapeutic interventions can be beneficial for soft-tissue injuries

Treatment and rehabilitation plans must be individually tailored to maintain and improve range of motion, reduce pain and inflammation, and improve functional activities.

For example, massage therapy can reduce stiffness and muscle soreness – although this should not be used in the first few days after the injury.

Appropriate strengthening programmes using tailored exercises are often required in the longer term to maximise recovery, and training regimens may need to be adjusted.5

Using multimodal approaches to relieve pain from sprains and strains

Multimodal therapy

A multimodal strategy is helpful

Pharmacological and physiotherapeutic interventions can be combined into a multimodal approach for managing sprains and strains. Guidelines recommend a range of intervention types.2

How can Dan and Nicholas be helped?



Dan, 42, has a young family and wants to make sure they are fit and active.

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Nicholas has recently strained a muscle that he has injured several times before, and recovery is taking longer than it did in the past. As a result, he is unable to participate in his usual regular sports, which is making him glum and frustrated.

Nicholas needs a solution that offers effective pain relief and fast recovery.

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Understanding sprains and strains

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Find out about the causes of sprains and strains.

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Signs and symptoms

Explore an overview of how to recognise sprains and strains and know when to refer patients.

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Overview of joint pain

Find out about joint pain and meet two patients with joint pain.

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Voltarol Back & Muscle Pain Relief 1.16% Gel Diclofenac Diethylammonium

Voltarol Back & Muscle Pain Relief 1.16% Gel Diclofenac Diethylammonium for strains and sprains

Relieves pain, reduces inflammation and speeds up the natural healing process.6–8

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Voltarol 140mg Medicated Plaster Diclofenac Sodium

Voltarol 140mg Medicated Plaster Diclofenac Sodium for strains and sprains

Effective relief of muscle pain with a patch that targets pain and inflammation.8

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Patient care resources

Access patient care resources.

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