Sprains and strains are two different injuries resulting in the same feeling – pain.
So, recognizing the symptoms and understanding the difference between both can help you determine the best approach for treatment.
A sprain is an injury to a ligament, or the thick, tough tissue that connects the bones together, keeping your body in a normal alignment. By keeping the skeleton in line, ligaments help to avoid abnormal movements; however, when too much force is applied, the ligament typically suffers a sprain.
A strain is an injury to the muscles or the tendons that attach the muscles to your bones. When overstretched, the muscle may become injured or strained. Both injuries typically occur in or around a joint and mostly during a physical activity or sport. Commonly injured ligaments are in the ankle, knee, and wrist, while strains usually occur in the back, neck, groin, and hamstring.
You will need to see an doctor if:
- You are experiencing severe pain, and cannot put any weight on the injured joint
- The area surrounding the injured joint is tender to touch
- The joint injured has bumps and lumps as well as swelling
- You cannot move the joint
- Your limb buckles or gives way when trying to move
- The injured area has been injured several times in the past
- You have pain, swelling, or redness over the bony part of your foot
However, if your injury does not involve any of the symptoms listed above and the sprain or strain does not require a visit to a doctor, it can be treated using the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevate) treatment method.
For more information on sprains and strains and the treatment options available, call Sports Medicine North at (978) 278-3113 for an appointment.