If you take a fall or get hurt while playing sports, there’s a chance you could suffer from a sprain or strain. Learn the difference between the two injuries and how to tend to them so you experience a fast recovery.
What’s the Difference Between Sprains and Strains?
Sprains and strains are both injuries suffered in the tissue around the bone. Where the two differ is the affected tissue.
- Sprains: Are injuries to the ligament, the tissue surrounding a joint. The ligament can overstretch or tear under trauma, such as twisting an ankle or falling on your elbow.
- Strains: Occur when your tendons or muscles are stretched or torn. Tendons are the connective tissue between a muscle and bone. Muscle lays above the bone and provides force and pressure to any action. Strains are most common in athletes who do not give their bodies adequate amounts of rest.
While everyone can get sprains and strains, those most at risk are athletes, people with weight issues and anyone struggling with balance.
How Do I Know If I Have a Strain or Sprain?
You may have trouble identifying what type of injury you’re suffering from at first. Because sprains and strains occur around the bone, some of the symptoms you’ll experience are the same. Such symptoms include:
- Inability to move the injured body part.
Each injury comes with a few unique symptoms as well. With a sprain, patients often notice signs of bruising. With strains, many people experience muscle spasms and cramping.
How Do You Treat Sprains and Strains?
The most common treatment for sprains and strains is RICE, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
Rest is the first and most crucial element to your recovery. Ignoring the injury and carrying on with your daily routine can worsen the pain and further damage the tissue.
Ice is another vital factor. When you suffer from an injury, a flood of white blood cells rushes to the area to repair the damage, causing swelling and increasing your body temperature. Ice keeps the swelling down and reduces pain. Six to eight times a day, you should ice the injured area for about 20 minutes.
Compression is about keeping the swelling down. You can restrict the blood flow to the sprain or strain by wrapping the injured area with a bandage or a compression sleeve.
You’ll also want to keep the injured body part elevated above your heart. This is another excellent tactic that helps reduce swelling and stop the injury from being bombarded with blood cells.
When Should You Go to the Doctor?
The RICE treatment is effective for minor sprains and strains. However, there are some symptoms that call for a visit to a doctor. These symptoms include:
- Inability to put weight on the injury.
- Popping or cracking sounds.
- Swelling that stays or worsens.
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