Now that summer is with us people are enjoying their sports and recreation and is often accompanied by sprains and strains the most common injuries affecting the muscles and ligaments.

Fortunately most of these problems can be treated at home without seeing a GP or going to A&E.

You are likely to have a sprain or strain if you have pain, tenderness or weakness – often around your ankle, foot, wrist, thumb, knee or back.

The injured area can be swollen or bruised and cannot support any weight without causing pain or use the joint normally. It is not uncommon to have muscle spasms or cramping- where your muscles painfully tighten on their own.

To treat sprains and strains, for the first four days rest and stop any exercise and avoid putting weight on the injury.

Apply an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a tea towel to the injury for up to 20 minutes every two to three hours.

Wrap a bandage around the injury to support and keep it raised on a pillow as much as possible.

Beware, for the first couple of days avoid such as baths, heat packs, alcohol and massage to prevent swelling.

When you can move the injured area without pain stopping you, try to keep moving so that the muscles do not become stiff.

Pharmacists might suggest tablets or a cream or gel to rub on the skin. Do not take ibuprofen for 48 hours after the injury as it may slow down healing.

Paracetamol will ease the pain and once the injury has started to heal then ibuprofen can bring down the swelling.

After two weeks, most sprains or strains should feel better but avoid strenuous exercise and running for eight weeks but can take months to get back to normal.

If the injury is not healing or you have a very high temperature and feel hot and shivery consult 111 for further advice.