Sprains and strains are the most common sports and work-related injuries. They involve your muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons. These two injuries are painful and can cause swelling, but most sprains and strains don’t need serious treatment.
Many times, sprains and strains can go undetected — you might think the pain you’re experiencing is insignificant, only for you to aggravate it later. As such, it’s best to know as much as you can about sprains and strains, especially if you lead an active lifestyle.
What Are Sprains And Strains?
A sprain is the stretching or tearing of a ligament. A ligament is tissue connecting the bones in a joint. The injury can be caused by falling, landing awkwardly from a jump, abrupt pivoting, or trauma from getting hit. The most common joint affected by sprains is the ankle. You can also sustain it in your knee, thumb, and elbow.
Strains are similar, except they affect either tendons or muscles. Tendons are like ligaments, except they connect muscles to bones. Strains can occur the same way as sprains but can also develop from overuse or prolonged and repetitive movements. Additionally, overstress and improper lifting can result in a strain. You can develop the condition suddenly or gradually.
The most common areas for the injury include your hamstring, back, shoulder, and neck.
Symptoms Of Sprains and Strains
A sprain typically causes pain, swelling, and bruising. The severity of these symptoms will depend on your injury and what you damaged. You may also feel a pop or tear when you sustain a sprain.
Depending on your injury, you may experience difficulty moving your affected joint. You may be unable to put weight or pressure on it, as well. In addition, most doctors categorize strains according to their symptoms and severity:
- Grade 1 (mild sprain) — slight overstretching or tearing of a ligament; comes with minimal pain and swelling.
- Grade 2 (moderate sprain) — partial tearing of a ligament; comes with some loss of function, pain, and bruising.
- Grade 3 (severe sprain) — total tearing or rupturing of a ligament; comes with pain, swelling, and bruising.
Strains have similar symptoms to sprains, primarily pain and swelling. You might also experience muscle spasms, weakness, and cramping.
Treatment for Sprains and Strains
Strain and sprain treatments are similar. It’s critical to address a sprain or strain properly and immediately. Leaving either of these injuries untreated can aggravate it, especially if you stress out the affected area by engaging in physical activity. You can use the R.I.C.E. method as a preliminary treatment:
- Rest — avoid using the affected area and putting pressure on it.
- Ice — apply ice or a cold compress over the area for 15-20 minutes every two to three hours to relieve pain and swelling.
- Compress — wrap your injury with a medical bandage or athletic wrap to control the swelling.
- Elevate — lift the injured area to a level above your heart to limit blood flow to the area and reduce swelling.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs can reduce inflammation and relieve pain after applying or receiving first aid. However, it’s best to ask your physician first about which medication you should take. Your healthcare provider may also recommend using a brace or splint to immobilize the area and facilitate healing. More severe cases like completely torn ligaments may require surgery.
Physical therapy can help you recover fully and prevent future injury. Your therapist will assist you in regaining strength, improving your technique, and controlling movements. They’ll also include patient education to help you learn ways to avoid sustaining the injury again.
Treatment For Sprains And Strains In Hartford And Tolland Counties, CT & Springfield, MA
If you need treatment for a sprain or strain in Connecticut or Massachusetts, look no further than Advanced Orthopedics New England. We have a team of board-certified orthopedic surgeons who can give you the comprehensive treatment you need to fully recover.
If you want to know more about our services, you may call our friendly staff at (860) 728-6740. If you want to book a consultation, you may use our secure online appointment request form.
We look forward to serving you in one of our five convenient locations!