You are out hiking and twist your ankle. It hurts, but you make it back to your car without much problem. You notice you have some swelling and it is sore, so you head home for some good, old fashioned R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation). You pass it off, saying, “Oh, it’s just a sprain.” However, when your doctor checks you out the next day, he tells you that it is “strained.” Sprain vs. strain, what’s the difference?
While many people use the two terms interchangeably, they are not the same. There are some distinct differences although many of the symptoms are almost identical. In short, when a ligament is injured, it is called a sprain. When a muscle or tendon is injured, it is called a strain.
Ligaments are tough bands of tissue that connect two bones as they sit in a joint. For example, the tibia and fibula come together to fit in the ankle joint. Tendons join those two bones together to keep the ankle stable. A joint sprain occurs when these ligaments are torn or overstretched. The ankle is the most commonly sprained joint.
Tendons are cords of tissue made up of a dense network of fibers. They connect the muscle to the bone. A joint strain occurs when the tendons or muscles tear or overstretch. The lower back and hamstrings are the most common areas for muscle strain.
Both injuries are very similar, so it stands to reason that the symptoms of the injuries are also almost identical. This is why they are so commonly confused.
The symptoms for each condition is very similar, but there are some differences.
As you can see, the symptoms of sprains and strains are very close. The primary differences though are that bruising may occur with a sprain while a strain may elicit muscle spasms in the muscle that is affected.
Experiencing a sprain or strain every once in a while is not out of the ordinary. We put our bodies through a lot in a day. However, certain activities can make you more susceptible to movements that can lead to these injuries. They include:
Sometimes injuries just happen and there’s nothing you can do about it. However, in most cases, you can take proactive steps to minimize your risks. These are some of the most common risk factors:
If you have a sprain or strain and notice that the swelling has not subsided or if you still have pain after a week or so, you need to follow up with your doctor to make sure you don’t have a more severe injury.
The information herein on "Sprain vs Strain: What's the Difference? El Paso, Texas" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional.
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