Advanced Foot & Ankle Institute of Georgia

Is It a Sprain or a Strain? Tips for Identification

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Is It a Sprain or a Strain? Tips for Identification
Meet Dr. Fui Dawson
Is It a Sprain or a Strain? Tips for Identification

It’s the middle of summer, and you go for a run on the beach. Suddenly, you feel a sharp pain in your ankle – did you sprain it? Or is it a strain? Many people are confused about the two injuries, even though they have some key differences. Overstretching or tearing soft tissues in and around your joints is frequently referred to as joint laxity. Read on to understand the differences, causes, and treatments for a sprain or a strain.

What Is a Sprain and How Does It Occur?

The ligaments are bands of tough, fibrous tissue that connect bones to other bones. A sprain happens when one or more ligaments are stretched or torn. This can happen due to a fall, a blow to the body, or an awkward twisting motion. Sprains usually occur in the ankle, knee, or wrist.

What Are the Symptoms of a Sprain?

The most common symptom of a sprain is pain. You may also feel tenderness, swelling, bruising, or stiffness in the affected area. It may be challenging to move the joint or put weight on it.

If you think you have a sprain, you must see a doctor. They can give you medication and tips to prevent foot pain.

Read more: How To Prevent Foot Pain: Six Effective Tips

What Is a Strain and How Is It Caused?

Unlike a pulled muscle, strains involve an injury to your muscles or tendons. These tissues connect the muscles to your bones, allowing you to move your joints.

Strains often occur when a muscle is stretched beyond its capacity or torn. This can happen if you overuse the muscle, lift something too heavy, suddenly change direction, or experience a direct blow to the muscle.

What Are the Symptoms of a Strain?

Symptoms of a strain can vary depending on the severity of your injury. But in general, you may experience:

  • pain in the affected area
  • muscle spasms or cramping
  • weakness in the muscle
  • tenderness
  • inflammation or bruising.

If the strain is severe, you may also hear a popping sound when the muscle or tendon tears. You may also feel like your muscle has given out on you.

Risk Factors for a Strain or a Sprain

1) Sports that require repetitive motion or sudden changes in direction (such as basketball, football, or tennis). These types of activities put stress on your muscles and tendons, which can lead to strain.

2) As you age, your muscles, tendons, and ligaments become less flexible and more susceptible to injury.

3) Poor conditioning. If you don’t warm up correctly or are not in shape, you’re more likely to injure yourself.

4) Environment: Wet, slippery surfaces increase your risk of falling, leading to a sprain or strain.

Treatment Options for Sprains or Strains

1) Rest: This is the essential treatment for a sprain or strain. Avoid activities that put stress on your injured joint or muscle.

2) Ice: Ice helps reduce swelling and pain. Apply ice for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day.

3) Compression: Wrapping an elastic bandage around your injured joint or muscle can help reduce swelling.

4) Elevation: Keeping your injured joint or muscle above the level of your heart can help reduce swelling.

If you have a sprained ankle in Marietta, contact the Advanced Foot and Ankle Institute. Our doctors will work with you to create a treatment plan to help you heal quickly and effectively.