Is There a Difference Between Sprains and Strains?

How many times have you limped home after a sporting activity only to be slowed by the pain and swelling. to move the injured body part. Do you know whether you have a sprain or strain?

Is there a difference between sprains and strains?

There are many similarities between these two types of injuries. Both have varying degrees of severity ranging from 1st to 3rd degree. And both are used to describe a stretching or tearing injury to the body.

The difference lies in the type of tissue that has been injured.

A sprain occurs when there is damage to a ligament. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect bone to bone, and can be found at all the different joints in the body. A strain is diagnosed when there has been damage to a muscle or a muscle tendon. The muscle tendon is what connects muscle to bone.

This difference also extends into the healing process. A sprain, or ligament injury, will normally take longer to heal. This is mainly because ligaments do not have the same ample blood supply that muscles do. Making it difficult for ligaments to repair themselves once injured.

It is possible for both of these injures to occur at the same time. For example, landing sideways onto the ankle while running or jumping will likely cause a degree of tearing to the tissue around the ankle. If the landing force is great enough you can have tearing of both the ligaments and the muscles.

Generally to injure a ligament there needs to be a certain amount of force applied. Resulting in immediate pain. A strain on the other hand can occur without you even knowing how it happened. This is because muscles adapt to the position they are in most. So poor posture causes muscles to shorten or lengthen depending on the position. However, muscles can only adapt so far. If the muscle is lengthened too greatly it will begin to stretch or even tear under the stress. This usually occurs in the back and neck area, and is a common cause of pain.

Treatment of strains and sprains are similar. The primary goal in the first 48 hours is to rest the injured area.

1) Put ice on the injury for 20 minutes at a time. It is often advised to do this 4 to 8 times a day.

2) Compress the injury using bandages.

3) Elevate the injured limb.