It’s happened to many of us– you’re on the tennis court or going for a long walk or run. As you take your next step or swing your racquet you feel the pain in your knee, wrist or elbow. It hurts and it feels like it may be swollen? You think your injury is a sprain or maybe a strain, but you’re not quite sure what the difference is between the two. So, how can you tell is it a sprain or a strain? Learn the differences between a sprain or strain, the causes, symptoms and treatment for both.
Differences Between a Sprain & Strain
Many of the symptoms of a sprain and strain can be similar, but basically a strain is an injury to muscles or tendons and a sprain is an injury to ligaments. Here’s some additional information to help clarify the differences between sprains and strains.
- A strain is inflammation of muscles or tendons. A tendon is the fibrous tissue that connects your muscles to bones. Strains are typically caused by over or repetitive use. If left untreated strained tendons can start to pull away from the muscle with slight tearing, progressing to tendinitis. A strained muscle area should be rested and allowed to heal.
- A sprain is an overstretching or tearing of ligaments. Ligaments are the bands of fibrous tissue that connect two bones to each other. Sprains are generally graded as minor, moderate or severe and treatment varies with the severity of the injury.
Most mild sprains and strains can be successfully treated at home. Severe sprains and strains may sometimes require surgery to repair torn ligaments, muscles or tendons.
Symptoms of Sprains & Strains
Tenderness, pain and mild swelling usually occur with strains and you may experience muscle spasms. The pain from a strain will generally be localized, but it can also travel to different areas of your body. The pain may be minor or it could persist over a few days or weeks if the tendons are not rested. Strains can become chronic if the activity causing it isn’t stopped.
With a minor sprain the ligaments may be lightly overstretched with some minor pain and swelling, but movement is usually not affected. A moderate sprain is partial tearing of a ligament which can cause increased pain, swelling and in some cases bruising. A severe sprain is a complete tearing of a ligament or group of ligaments. Severe pain and swelling are immediate and there may be a significant loss of movement in the injured area.
Treatment of Sprains & Strains
Resting the strained or sprained area with a splint or brace is important for healing and can also help prevent further injury. Some suggested splints/braces include: the KS7 Knee Compression Sleeve for knee sprains.
The Fix Comfort Wrist Brace for wrist sprains and strains.
And the 3pp Elbow POP Splint for golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow or tendinosis.
In addition to wearing a splint or brace, pain relieving creams and oils not only can help with your pain, but can also promote faster healing. Whether for muscle pain, joint pain, soft tissue pain or injury, there are many creams that help to stimulate healing and reduce pain.Like what you’ve read? Click here to subscribe to the blog!
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Our blogs are educational in nature and are not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Because your condition is unique to you, it is recommended that you consult with your health care provider before attempting any medical or therapeutic treatments. We are always happy to answer questions about products mentioned in our blogs, however, we cannot provide a diagnosis or medical advice.