Do you know what the difference is between a sprain and a strain? A lot of people mistakenly refer to these two types of injuries as the same, even though they are very different.
Let’s take a look at what the difference is between sprains and strains.
Sprains are characterized by overstretching or tearing of tough tissues called ligaments, which connect bones to form a joint. Sprains occur when you accidentally roll, twist, or unnaturally turn a ligament, forcing it to stretch or move in a position it is not accustomed to.
Sprains are diagnosed with levels of severity. A grade 1 sprain means the affected ligament slightly tore or stretched. A grade 2 sprain refers to an incomplete tear, meaning a part of the ligament tore, while the other part is still attached. A grade 3 sprain refers to a complete tear of the ligament into 2 pieces. It is often accompanied by severe swelling, pain, and bruising.
The signs and symptoms you will experience depend on the severity of the sprain. Common symptoms include:
- Limited movement in the affected joint
- A popping sound in the joint when the injury occurred
If you feel pain directly over your bones and have a loss of sensation in the affected joint, seek immediate medical care. These may be symptoms of a more severe injury, like a bone fracture.
Causes and Risk Factors
The primary cause of sprains is a sudden overextension or tearing of the ligament, causing severe pressure on the connective tissue. A sprain can occur because of falls, direct contact when playing sports, and sudden pivoting. The most common areas for this type of injury are:
Sports and work accidents can cause sprains, but other factors can also increase your risk. These factors include:
- Walking or running on uneven and slippery surfaces
- Wearing inadequate footwear, such as worn-out shoes or high heels
Strains, also called pulled muscles, affect muscles or tendons, the bands of connective tissue that attach muscles to bones. Strains commonly occur in the lower back and the hamstrings.
Like sprains, strains are described depending on severity. This injury may be minor, a simple overstretching of a muscle or tendon (grade 1), or severe, involving a partial tear (grade 2) or complete rupture (grade 3).
The severity of a strain, whether minor or severe, determines the intensity of the signs and symptoms you are likely to feel. Some of them include:
- Redness or bruising
- Limited range of motion
- Muscle weakness and spasms
Causes and Risk Factors
The primary cause of acute strains is poor body mechanics when lifting heavy objects or performing physically demanding activities. On the other hand, chronic strains are caused by repetitive incorrect use of the affected muscle or tendon.
One major risk factor of strains is engaging in sports or physical activities that involve direct contact. Likewise, legs, hands, and elbows are generally more susceptible to strains because certain activities require you to make quick movements, grip objects, or move with a lot of pressure.
Sprains and Strains Treatment in New York
The initial treatment for sprains and strains is RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) therapy. Severe cases of sprains or strains may result in severe injuries requiring medical treatment by a professional. If symptoms persist and pain becomes unbearable, seek immediate medical assistance.
Cornerstone Urgent Care Center, located in Rochester, New York, provides the care you deserve quickly and at a low cost. Our group of dedicated providers aims to offer optimal medical service for all our patients. Our clinic is open every day of the week to help you with your urgent and unexpected medical needs. You may reach us at (585) 207-0088. You can also send us a message if you plan to drop by.