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Sprains and Strains



What's the difference between a sprain and a strain?

 

 A sprain is an injury to a ligament, and a strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon. Strains can occur without a sprain; however, when you have a sprain, you will almost always have a strain.

 

What causes a sprain?

 

A joint or a muscle that is pulled or stretched beyond its normal range of motion is said to be sprained. A sprain damages the ligament that's attached to the bone and which holds the joint place.

A strain, which is often called a pulled muscle, damages the muscle tissue and tendons. Strains can result from ongoing activities that overstretch muscle fibers.

Both sprains and strains often occur because of over exertion while playing a sport or during exercising. Falls, improper lifting, sleeping in an awkward position, or even the simple act of trying to reach too far for something are everyday causes. Most sprains affect ankles, knees, wrists, fingers. Most strains injure the hamstring, quadriceps, or bicep.

 

What are the symptoms of sprains and strains?

 

A sharp pain that occurs at the site of the injury is the first sign of a sprain or strain. Other symptoms that follow can include an inability to move the affected area, swelling, redness and bruising.

 

Recommendations for sprains and strains?

 

Sprains and strains usually will heal in two to three weeks, and most can be treated at home. Consider taking these steps:

  • If pain occurs while you're active, stop and rest. Continued activity will make it worse
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling
  • If your fingers are injured, remove jewelry immediately to avoid restricting blood flow and possibly having to have a ring cut off
  • Follow the traditional therapy of RICER:
    • Rest the injury for a day or two
    • Ice the injury for 10 to 15 minutes at 2-hour intervals for the first 48 to 72 hours
    • Compress the injury by tightly wrapping it with an elastic bandage for 30 minutes, then unwrapping for 15 minutes. Repeat several times.
    • Elevate the injury to reduce swelling, especially if the injury is to an arm or leg
    • Rehabiliate the injured area by slowly adding weight and movement after a couple days
    ***The information, including opinions and recommendations, contained in the Web site is for general educational purposes only. Such information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. No one should act upon any information on this Web site without first seeking medical advice from a qualified medical physician with whom they have a confidential doctor/patient relationship.***


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