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Sprains and Strains

Sprains and strains often occur during sports and exercise. However, they can happen during simple everyday activities such housework and gardening, too. You can even sprain your ankle stepping of a curb, or strain your back lifting a heavy item at work.

While sprains and strains are common injuries that share similar causes and symptoms, they involve different parts of your body. A sprain is a stretch or tear of a ligament, the tissue that connects bones to other bones. A strain, also known as a torn muscle or muscle pull, is a stretch or tear of a muscle or tendon, the band of tissue that connects muscle to bone.

Sprains and Strains Symptoms

It’s possible for some sprains and strains to develop during the same injury process. Signs and symptoms vary, depending on the severity of your injury. Common ones include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising or redness
  • Decreased range of motion

With a sprain, you may also hear a popping sound in your joint upon injury. With a strain, you’re likely to experience muscle spasms, but a pop may be felt as well.

Sprains and Strains Risk Factors

People at higher risk for sprains and strains are those who:

  • Are athletes
  • Have had sprains and strains before
  • Are overweight
  • Are starting a physical activity or exercise program for the first time
  • Have balance disorders (prone to falling)

To reduce your risk of sprains and strains, stretch daily, warm up before exercising, wear properly fitting shoes and maintain a healthy body weight.

Sprains and Strains Treatments

A common treatment for both sprains and strains includes rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). While most mild sprains and strains can be treated at home, severe ones may require surgery to repair torn ligaments, muscles or tendons.

If you have any concerns about the seriousness of a sprain or strain, contact an orthopedic specialist at Summa Health. This is important because if you try to return to daily activities or sports too soon, you risk injuring the area again.

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If your situation is an emergency, call 911.