What’s the Difference Between Sprain and Strain?

Have you ever experienced having twisted your ankle? Or injuring your thumb because you used your hands to break your fall? Have you suffered from a painful muscle in your thigh or legs after running several miles?

Have you felt a sore muscle in your arms after lifting a heavy object several times? These pains are caused by sprains and strains but, which one is a sprain and which one is a strain? How do they differ from each other?

Distinguishing Between A Sprain and A Strain

Many people think that the words “sprain” and “strain” are the same thing, which is entirely wrong. A sprain refers to a tear or damage to the ligament due to being stretched to the limit.

Fibrous substances make up the ligaments. When too much pressure is applied to it as when you hit the ground with your knees or elbows or when you twist your ankles. A strain refers to stretched or torn tissues of the muscles.

Engaging in a strenuous activity continuously can cause a strain. A weightlifter that lifts weights that are heavier than what he is used to can suffer from muscle pain in the back or arms. The pain is caused by strained muscles on the arms, back, and even the legs.

Sprains and Strains and Their Causes

Sprains and strains usually happen to people who engage in sports or in a demanding workout. An athlete that accidentally falls on his knees in a basketball court may suffer from a sprained knee.

A serious sprain on the ankle or knee can prevent a person from walking since putting pressure on the sprain can be terribly painful.

Lifting a heavy object that is heavier than what you can lift can cause muscle strain. As you exert effort, the muscles bulge and expand until the tissues are torn.

The injury can cause pain and inflammation, as well as impede the flow of blood in the affected area. The inflamed tissues can cause excruciating pain.

Treatment of Sprain and Strain

When you have a sprain, the treatment that you need would depend on the severity of the injury. A mild sprain can go away after 24 to 48 hours of rest.

You must stop using the area that has been injured. If you have a sprained ankle or knee, you might have difficulty walking until it heals. You can put ice on the inflamed or swollen area to reduce swelling and pain.

You can place an ice bag above the ankle or knee for 30 minutes until the swelling alleviates. Pain medication can help reduce your suffering. Serious sprains can cause a bone to be fractured. In this case, seeing a doctor is of utmost importance.

Strains are treated in almost the same way as sprains. Taking a rest for a day or two can help end the soreness. Using cold or hot compress can also help. Some people who suffer from torn muscle tissues may take pain killers to reduce the pain.

Others go for a massage therapy wherein the painful muscle areas are given a massage to stimulate the flow of blood and hasten the healing of the injured muscles.

Unlike in sprains where it is advised not to use the injured part, in strains, the part must be used frequently. This will prevent scarring in muscle tissues, which can prevent blood flow and affect the healing process of the muscle tissues that were strained. For some types of sprains and strains, recovery may take a few days to several weeks and even months.

Prevention of Sprains and Strains

Sprains and strains can be prevented by taking several precautions. If you are playing active sports, wearing protective gear such as a knee pad is important.

When a person falls, the pressure is absorbed by the knee pads so that its effect of the knees is minimised. You must wear comfortable and perfectly fitting shoes to avoid accidents.

To prevent strains, always do some warm-up exercises to stretch your muscles and prepare for the exercise that you will perform. Being consistent in doing your exercise routine every day can help condition the muscles. Sticking to a nutritious diet can help strengthen your bones.

Knowing the difference between a sprain and a strain can help you prevent them. You can immediately apply the correct remedy or find the right treatment to prevent more damage to the injured part.

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