Sprain Vs. Strain – Treatment & Symptoms
Have you ever wondered how sprains and strains are similar yet different? This blog shares a detailed guide to understanding both injuries.
Here’s what you need to know.
What Is A Sprain?
A sprain is a ligament injury that occurs when the structure sustains a tear or is stretched beyond its usual capacity. Ligaments are made of tough connective tissue and connect bones. They’re essential for joint stability and responsible for holding the bones in their place.
When a sprain occurs, the respective joint is knocked out of its position due to a direct or indirect shock. As a result, the joint becomes unstable. Sprains can be categorized as being mild, moderate, or severe. They’re usually characterized by a ‘pop’ in the joint, bruising, limited flexibility, limited movement, and pain.
What Is A Strain?
A strain is a similar musculoskeletal injury. The difference is that it occurs in the muscles or tendons. In other words, a strain is an injury in which a muscle or tendon is stretched beyond its usual capacity and sustains a tear. It may also lose elasticity, becoming inflamed when overused.
Like sprains, strains can also be categorized as being mild, moderate, or severe. The symptoms include soreness, swelling, loss of mobility, limited flexibility, muscle spasms, and pain.
What Causes Sprains & Strains?
Both sprains and strains are common musculoskeletal injuries associated with sports and physical activities. Sprains usually occur due to falls, sudden impact, or twisting movements. As a result, the ligament tears.
Situations that typically lead to sprains include:
- Playing contact sports
- Walking on uneven surfaces
- Pivoting or making sudden jerking movements
- Falling and landing at an odd angle
Strains are usually attributed to repetitive motion. Therefore, they’re more common among individuals who perform repetitive movements during the day, overexerting their muscles.
Common scenarios that can result in strains include:
- Operating machinery
- Lifting heavy objects
- Throwing objects
- Running, jumping, or walking
- Playing sports involving repetitive motions
In the case of chronic strains, the condition develops over an extended period. For instance, you may sustain a muscle injury if you’ve been performing similar muscle movements frequently, such as swinging the tennis racquet or adopting certain postures while conducting mechanical work.
Preventing Sprains & Strains
There’s a reason why sprains and strains are so common: it’s because they’re inevitable. Despite the best preventive measures, these injuries will occur at some point or another, especially if you’re at a higher risk of getting them. After all, accidents do happen.
Having said that, you can adopt a couple of preventive strategies to reduce your chances of getting a sprain or a strain. These include:
- Stretch Regularly: Whether you’re an athlete or have a desk job, it’s imperative that you practice gentle stretching exercises in your routine. Dedicate at least ten minutes each day to stretch your arms, legs, neck, and back.
- Warm- Up:As important as it is to exercise regularly, don’t forget to warm up before you begin. This will help your body prepare for the physical activity that’s about to follow, ensuring that your muscles and ligaments don’t get injured or overworked shortly after you start.
- Take Breaks:Speaking of exercise, don’t overexert yourself. Take breaks to rest and relax. This will help your muscles recover and recuperate after workouts.
- Be Cautious:As simple as it sounds, this is actually a crucial piece of advice. Be cautious of your surroundings and take the appropriate measures when you’re indoor or outdoor. For instance, if it’s raining outside, make sure you’re wearing the proper gear and aren’t rushing your steps.
Treating Sprains & Strains
The good news is that sprains and strains can be treated fairly easily. Most treatment interventions involve the popular RICE method. Here’s what it entails:
- Rest: This component of the RICE technique involves resting the affected joint or muscle, avoiding using it as much as possible.
- Ice: Icing the affected area is also a great way to reduce the pain and swelling. However, make sure that you aren’t applying the ice directly to your skin. Always use an ice pack or wrap a towel around a bunch of ice cubes, and gently massage the affected area for ten minutes.
- Compression: Compression also helps alleviate the swelling. This is done by taping the affected area (not too tightly) to apply gentle pressure at the area.
- Elevation: This component involves keeping the affected area elevated at an angle to reduce swelling and pain.
While the RICE method is quite effective, if your symptoms still persist after two days since the injury, it’s time to take things up a notch. This is where physiotherapy comes into the picture.
Physiotherapy Services in Edmonton
At Boost Physiotherapy, we offer comprehensive physical therapy services in Edmonton to treat sprains and strains. Our team of trained physiotherapists specialise in the different modalities needed to restore function, strength, and mobility. We also use physical therapy strategies to help alleviate pain and discomfort.
Get in touch with our trained physiotherapists in Edmonton for personalised physiotherapy services in the area. Book an appointment now!
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