The Difference Between a Sprain and Strain

Category: Blog

Individuals with active lifestyles are commonly prone to injured muscles, tendons and ligaments. The soft tissues are more likely injured during exercises, sports and athletic activities. However, even simple daily activities may cause a musculoskeletal injury.

In finding out whether the amount of pain you have is a sprain (tear) or a strain, it is better to consult a doctor for proper assessment. These types of injuries may take a longer amount of healing time, even after the provision of appropriate treatment.

What is a Sprain?

A sprain is a stretch or tear of a ligament, which is a connective tissue that stabilizes the bones. The severity of a sprain may be categorized by the extent of tissue tearing, pain, swelling, and the force on joint stability.

Body areas that are most susceptible for sprains are the knees, ankles, and wrists. With extreme tension on the ligaments of the ankles, the foot can turn inward and a sprain can occur.

Symptoms of a Sprain:

  • Tenderness and bruising
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Inflammation
  • Swelling

What is a Strain?

A strain is a damage to muscle fibers and tendons. Tendons are fibrous tissues that attach muscles to the bones. A strain is also known as a ‘torn muscle’ or ‘ruptured tendon’.

With similarity to sprains, a strain can be a stretch in a muscle or tendon. It can also be a partial to complete tear in both the muscle and tendon fused together.

The type of sports that may jeopardize athletes to suffer from strains are basketball, volleyball, football, soccer, boxing, hockey, long jump and running. Tennis players and gymnasts are prone to hand strains due to several gripping required in these sports. Elbow strains regularly occur in sports that demand throwing, such as racket.

Symptoms of a Strain:

  • Pain
  • Muscle spasm
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Cramping

At PM&R, we treat various types of injuries and see sprains and/or strains in various parts of the body. Our experts can assess your exact issue and the best course of action to recover and heal properly.

Call us today at (317) 794-2759.

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