Many of us are starting our year off with new fitness goals and nothing stops a new workout regimen faster than a strain, sprain or tear. What is the difference between them, how do you treat them and what can you do to prevent these injuries?
· A Sprain is an injury of overstretching or tearing a ligament (the tissue that connects two or more bones to a joint). For example: A sprained ankle
· A Strain is an injury to the muscle or tendon (cords of tissue that connect muscles to bone) that is overstretched or torn. For example: A strained hamstring
· A Tear is a more serious condition that is a complete separation of fibrous tissue that can occur in the ligaments, muscles or tendons. For Example: Torn ACL
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Recognizing A Sprain or a Strain
A strain, depending on the severity, will cause joint or muscle pain, inflammation of the area, difficulty moving, tenderness and bruising of the area. A strain will cause muscle spasms, swelling, cramping, as well as painful and trouble moving. “We generally define the severity of sprains and strains in three levels,” explains Sean P. Calloway, MD, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon with Franciscan Health. “A grade one strain or sprain is an injury related to stretching of a ligament/muscle with no tears to tissues. A grade two sprain or strain can involve a partial tear to ligaments/muscles. A complete tear, called a ‘grade three’ sprain or strain, is an injury in which the ligament, muscle, or tendon completely pulls off the bone.” Self-diagnoses is not recommended. Physicians normally determine the severity of an injury through injury history and examination. In severe cases an MRI can help diagnose the injury and help create a treatment path.
Recognizing a Tear
A tear is more severe than a sprain or a strain. A tear will likely immobilize you immediately and cause terrible pain and swelling in the area.
Treatment: Majority of minor sprains and strains can take a few days (7-10) or weeks to heal in the comfort of your home.
Anti-Inflammatory medication like ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) can help reduce swelling and help relieve pain. Always talk to your physician before taking any mediations or if you have experienced any side effects. When in doubt always remember the acronym R.I.C.E. · REST- Avoid putting weight on the injury. · ICE- Apply ice to the inflamed area for 10 to 20 minutes every hour or two for the first 24 to 72 hours or until swelling has decreased. · COMPRESSION- Use a compression wrap or tap for the first 24 to 36 hours to help the swelling. · ELEVATION- Keep injury elevated above the heart level for two to three hours per day for reduced swelling. If the pain is unbearable or persists for more than 24 hours, seek medical attention as soon as possible, either at an emergency room or through a same-day appointment with Franciscan Health’s orthopedic care team.
· Always allow enough stretching and warm up time before working out or participating in an activity.
· Use protective equipment when participating in an activity. For example, a back brace.
· Have proper fitting shoes for better stability and balance.
· Build and maintain muscle and joint strength with regular exercise.
· Know your limits and be patient with yourself.
Citations Sprains, Strains And Tears | Franciscan Health Sprain Vs. Strain – Treatment & Symptoms | NIAMS (nih.gov) (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases) The differences between a sprain, strain and tear - Vital Record (tamhsc.edu)