How to Tell If Your Pain Symptoms Are the Result of a Sprain or a Strain

Jun20th 2022

Although the phrases “sprain” and “strain” are often used interchangeably, there is a key difference between the two. In order to understand the distinctions between a sprain and a strain, you must first understand the difference between a ligament and a tendon.

Your ligaments are bands of tissue that connect bones to each other within the joints, whereas your tendons are tissues that link your bones to your muscles. A strain is a result of overstretching a tendon and a sprain is a result of tearing or overstretching a ligament.

If you believe you are experiencing a sprain or strain and have been dealing with painful symptoms that have been keeping you from participating in daily life, contact Synergy Manual Physical Therapy today. Our team of dedicated physical therapists will ease your pain and help you get back on your feet.

Why am I experiencing a sprain or strain?

Because the injuries are so close in nature, the symptoms of a sprain and a strain are remarkably similar. Swelling, muscular spasms, limited range of motion, decreased flexibility, and pain around the afflicted joint are all possible symptoms.

However, there is one major distinction in symptoms: bruising around the injured joint is always evident with a sprain, but this is not always the case with a sprain. The following are some of the most prevalent causes of sprains and strains:

  • Athletic activities
  • Slipping and falling
  • Prolonged repetitive motion
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Overexerting yourself

There are also certain risk factors that may increase your chances of sustaining a sprain or strain, such as neglecting to warm up before exercising, using improper equipment, practicing improper techniques, being out of shape, or general fatigue.

How common are ankle injuries?

According to WebMD, “Ankle injuries can happen to anyone at any age. However, men between 15 and 24 years old have higher rates of ankle sprain, compared to women older than age 30 who have higher rates than men. Half of all ankle sprains occur during athletic activity. Every day in the U.S., 25,000 people sprain their ankles. And more than 1 million people visit emergency rooms each year because of ankle injuries. The most common ankle injuries are sprains and fractures, which involve ligaments and bones in the ankle. But you can also tear or strain a tendon.”

How do PT’s treat strains and sprains?

Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE) are commonly used to treat mild sprains and strains. However, if the RICE treatment does not work, or if the pain is terrible and/or constant, you should see a doctor. An X-ray may be taken to determine if there are any breaks in the bone. If no breaks are identified, a strain or sprain is usually the diagnosis.

Sprains and strains can be effectively treated with physical therapy. Regardless of how you were hurt, our skilled physical therapists can help you get back on your feet. One of our licensed physical therapists will use a mix of passive and active treatments to reduce pain, improve strength, and increase coordination. Passive treatments may include massage, ice and heat therapies, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound. Active treatments include targeted stretches and exercises.

A very common type of ligament sprain is an ACL tear, which physical therapy has been proven successful in treating. It has also been proven successful in treating various other types of tears, such as those to the Achilles tendon or hamstring.

Call our clinic today for an appointment

What’s the point of living your life with chronic pain when there are treatment options available to you? If you’re suffering from sprains, strains, or ankle pains, contact our office today to learn more about how we can get you started on the road to recovery.

Our experienced and certified physical therapists will do a comprehensive assessment of your condition and create an individualized treatment plan, based on your specific needs. Kick sprains and strains to the curb with natural physical therapy treatments!

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