A sprain is an injured ligament (tissue linking bone to bone). It can range from just a few injured fibers (first degree sprain) to a complete rupture (third degree sprain) to a tearing of the entire ligament and breaking of all surrounding bones (fifth degree). Symptoms include pain, heat, swelling, redness and a loss of joint function. The most commonly sprained joint is the ankle. A precise diagnosis is needed to make sure there are no broken bones.
The best initial treatment for a sprain is rest, ice, compression and elevation (Usually remembered by the acronym R.I.C.E.). Massage should not be administered until 1-3 days after the injury depending on the severity. Massage is good for reducing adhesions and influencing the new formation of collagen fibers as well as reducing stiffness.