At Southridge HealthPlus
301 RHL Blvd., Suite 3
South Charleston, WV 25309
Sprains and strains are the most common types of non-bone injuries. They can occur anywhere in the body, but typically involve an extremity. These injuries are due to abnormal stretching of the tissues around a joint (sprain) or of a muscle or tendon (strain). Often there is swelling and discoloration. Treatment consists of resting the affected part, sometimes with the help of external splints or wraps. Physical therapy may also be recommended, particularly with sports injuries. Follow-up care is important to assess for any long-term problems.
What is a sprain?
A sprain is a wrenching or twisting injury to a ligament. Sprains often affect the ankles, knees or wrists.
What is a strain?
A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon, and is often caused by overuse, force or stretching.
How is a sprain or strain diagnosed?
Your physician makes the diagnosis with a physical examination. Diagnostic procedures may also help evaluate the problem, such as:
- X-rays – a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones and organs onto film.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
- Computed Tomography scan (CT or CAT scan) – a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. CT scans show detailed images of any part of the body.
What are the symptoms of a sprain or strain*?
- Pain in the injured area
- Swelling in the injured area
- Difficulty using or moving the injured area in a normal manner
- Warmth, bruising and/or redness in the injured area
*Symptoms may resemble other conditions. Always consult your physician for an accurate diagnosis.
Treatment for sprains or strains
Specific treatment for a sprain or strain will be determined by your physician based on your overall health and medical history and extent of the injury.
Initial treatment includes rest, ice, compression and elevation (R.I.C.E). Other treatment options may include:
- Activity restrictions
- Physical therapy (to stretch and strengthen the injured muscles, ligaments and tendons)
- Surgery (especially if the injury is reoccurring or if a muscle, tendon or ligament is badly torn)