Sprain or Strain? Differences and Treatment Options

As you are carrying grocery bags or enjoying a game of baseball with your kids, you feel a jolt of pain in your arm or leg. Is it a sprain or strain? For many people, they are the same thing. However, the doctors at our Lexington pain center need to diagnose your condition accurately, in order to proceed with the adequate treatment plan.

So let us discuss the key differences between a sprain and a strain and how they can be treated.

Sprain – an Injury of the Ligaments

A sprain occurs when you have injured the ligaments around a joint. Ligaments are like bands that connect bones together to form a mobile joint. Sprains are almost always caused by sudden trauma: a fall, making a wrong move while playing sports, walking or running on an uneven surface and twisting a joint.

Sprains have different levels of severity. The less severe cases involve an overstretching of the ligament. In the more severe injuries, the ligament is completely torn and you may require surgery before any other treatment.

The most frequent type of this injury is the ankle sprain.

Common Symptoms of Sprains

Now let us explain how you recognize a sprain. Apart from the pain, preventing you from moving the joint, you will likely experience:

  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Reduced flexibility
  • Limited range of motion

Also, most patients experience a “popping” sensation at the moment of the injury.

Strain – the Injury to the Tendons or Muscles

Strains affect tendons or muscles. By contrast to sprains, a strain can be caused either by a sudden trauma (acute strain) or by constant overuse of a body part (chronic strain). The actual mechanism of straining is the tearing of the tendons or muscles by over-stretching and over-contracting.

The most common types of strain occur in the lower back and in the hamstring muscles at the back of the upper legs.

injuries to the muscles and ligaments are painful

Common Symptoms of Strains

People are not sure if they suffered a sprain or strain, because both have common symptoms: swelling, pain and reduced range of movements. However, strains also manifest specific symptoms:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Tenderness when touching the injured area
  • Muscle weakness.

Which Type of Injury Is Worse: Sprain or Strain?

Many patients who visit our Lexington pain center unsure of their diagnosis often ask this question. The answer is that both types of injury are equally serious. If left untreated, they can lead to reduced range of motions or even trigger the early onset of arthritis in some cases.

Fortunately, with early intervention, both sprain and strain are completely healed in a matter of a few weeks.

Treatment Options for Sprain and Strain

Although many doctors recommend the RICE method (rest, ice, compress and elevate the injured area), our specialists prefer a proactive approach. It has the benefit of speeding up the recovery and preventing the formation of scar tissue.

Our treatment plan typically consists of:

  • Medication – usually consisting of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to reduce pain
  • Chiropractic adjustments to reduce inflammation and spasms
  • Massage  to improve the blood flow
  • Physical therapy to recover the full use of the injured area

With our help, you will make a complete recovery and learn how to prevent future injuries, as well.

The Doctors at Our Lexington Pain Center Are Ready to Help You!

Whether you’ve suffered a sprain or strain, you only need to do one thing: come to our Lexington pain center and let our doctors diagnose and treat you. We use only advanced and minimally invasive therapies, so that you will heal completely and return to your everyday life as soon as possible.

Do not ignore any sprain or strain – call us to schedule your appointment at: 864-513-8950!