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Don't Pamper Strained Joints

Gentle exercise prevents reinjury

People who sprain an ankle may think they're giving the joint a chance to heal by favoring it, but babying a seriously injured joint might actually increase the chances of a recurrent injury.

The "R.I.C.E." method -- rest, ice, compression, and elevation -- is still the best choice for initial treatment. But serious strains need more help after the first swelling goes down and healing begins.

Dr. Michael Bowman, a Pittsburgh orthopedist who also helps treat the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, recommends a brace to protect the recovering joint, range of motion exercises to prevent stiffness, and muscle strengthening and balance exercises to prevent reinjury.

A wire service story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has tips to help sprains heal properly and describes simple exercises that can be done at home.

A previous HealthScout story also warns that commonly used pain pills won't help with the stiffness and swelling from strains and many other overuse injuries.

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