The difference between a sprain and a strain is the body part affected. A sprain is a ligament tear, most commonly in the ankle. A strain is a muscle or tendon tear or overstretching.
- Sprain symptoms include pain, swelling, and sometimes a bruised sensation with limited mobility.
- A “pop” in the joint will occasionally occur.
- Strain symptoms include pain, swelling, muscle spasms and limited mobility.
Who is at risk?
Strains and sprains most often happen in relation with sports as a result of fatigue or poor conditioning. The risk is also higher if muscles are not properly warmed prior to activity. People who have a previous sprain or strain that has not completely healed have a higher risk of re-injury.
Initial treatment is usually rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). A physician might direct use of a splint or brace to immobilize the area while it heals. Surgical correction is reserved for severe cases, especially in sport injuries.
Emergency Warning Signs: When should I see a doctor?
See a physician if the patient cannot walk more than a few steps or cannot move the affected joint. Numbness is another indicator that needs medical attention. Red streaks radiating from the affected area need to be evaluated as well. If you injure the same area repeatedly, you should also see a doctor.
Treatment for sprains and strains is available now at OnPoint Urgent Care in Aurora, Highlands Ranch, or Lone Tree Colorado.
For more information on sprains and strains, see the following websites:
Mayo Clinic Definition of Sprains and Strains
Medline Plus Overview of Sprains and Strains
Disclaimer: The links above are to sites independent of OnPointUrgentCare.com. The pages will open in a new browser window. The information provided is for educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your doctor. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding your specific medical questions, treatments, therapies, and other needs.