When you enter physical therapy, your medical professional may be throwing around the term “sprain” and “strain” when convincing you to stretch before exercise.
Before entering your next session, read up on the key differences of a strain versus a sprain.
A sprain occurs when the ligaments are overstretched or torn. Ligaments are bands of tissue that connect two bones together in a joint, like the knee or elbow. Some common symptoms of a sprain include:
- Difficulty obtaining full range of motion in a joint
- Limited flexibility
- Pain around the joint
- And bruising
Sprains can be caused by walking or running on an uneven surface, an odd knee pivot, overextending your arm, and more. You can reduce the risk of ligament issues by stretching before participating in vigorous activities.
When the muscles or tendons of a joint are overstretched or torn, a strain occurs. Rather than connecting bone to bone, tendons connect bones to muscles. Some symptoms of a muscle strain include:
- Limited flexibility
- Pain around the area
- Muscle spasms
- Difficulty getting full range of motion in the affected area
- And swelling
A strain can be caused by slipping on ice, running, jumping, lifting heavy objects, and more. If the activity requires a great amount of force, you could be putting yourself at a greater risk of muscle strain.
What are the key differences?
Sprains cause problems for your ligaments. Strains cause problems for your muscles and tendons.
Also, whereas a sprain may result in a bruise, a strain could cause your muscles to spasm. Other than that, there are no differences between the two.
Treatment and Prevention
There is no difference between sprain and strain treatment. Treatment for both conditions initially will include rest, compression, elevation, and ice. If the injury is mild in nature, it can be treated at home. If there is a severe injury, surgery may be required to repair any tears that have occurred.
To prevent injuries like sprains and strains it is important to stretch before exercise. Overexertion without proper conditioning can also result in injury. Learning the proper techniques when lifting or working out will help avoid injury or make previous joint injuries worse.