Strains, sprains. Sprains, strains

Little girl touching ankle with elastic bandage, close up view

Strains, sprains. Sprains, strains

Is it a strain, or is it a sprain? Just like colds and flus the terms strain and sprain are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to injuries of different tissues of the body. Basically, a strain refers to the tearing of a muscle or tendon, while a sprain is a ligament tear.

Muscles and tendons work together to create and transmit forces that produce movement, while ligaments provide more of a supportive and stabilizing function. Therefore, the symptoms experienced will be different. When you experience a strain (muscle or tendon) the pain tends to be isolated over the muscle or tendon body and you’ll likely experience weakness in the area.

A sprain (ligament) will usually swell with a normal inflammatory response. Pain is worse with movement or when stress is placed on the ligament. In some situations, the ligament can tear all the way through, which ironically causes much less pain than with a more minor tear. Likely due to the fact you are less able to put stress on the area. As ligaments provide a stabilizing function, the affected area will feel unstable rather than weak. Some ligaments are so strong, depending on how much support and stability is required, occasionally a bone will break before the ligament will tear!

In the case of either a strain or a sprain rest, ice, compression and elevation are still the best early interventions to apply, however the best course of treatment to ensure optimum recovery varies slightly. Our experienced Physiotherapists at Hoppers Physio are trained to be able to grade the severity of your injury – and to determine whether it is in fact a strain, or a sprain. Re-injury can easily occur, so correct rehabilitation is highly important. Be sure about the nature of your injury and take the best option for rehabilitation by scheduling an appointment with our friendly team at Hoppers Crossing on (03) 9749 5110.