A sprain is medically defined as a stretch or tear of the ligaments, the strong cords of fibrous tissue which connect two bones together at the joints. Sprains most commonly occur on areas of the body which can be injured during a fall or sudden twisting motion, such as the ankle. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, approximately 2 million ankle sprains alone occur each year. An incorrect fall or abrupt twist usually causes a sprain because the unusual movement can force a joint into an abnormal position that may wind up stretching or tearing the ligament. Ankles, wrists, knees, and fingers are all frequently sprained areas of the body.
A strain is medically defined as a stretch or tear of the muscle or tendon. A tendon is a fibrous band of tissue that connects the muscles to bones. Strains most commonly occur on the lower back and on the hamstring muscle located on the posterior side of the thigh, most commonly as a result of overexertion, trauma, or repetitive movements. Strains most frequently occur on the back, hamstring, and even the shoulder, because these areas are greatly mobile and highly used during strenuous physical activity, leading to a stretch or tear of a single, or multiple, muscle and tendon due to overuse.
Although sprains and strains significantly differ from each other, these do share several similarities, which is the main reason individuals generally confuse the two conditions.
Both sprains and strains include symptoms of pain, swelling, and limited mobility around the region of the injury. The symptoms can range from moderate to intense, according to the injury’s level of severity. Individual’s who’ve suffered an injury and are experiencing these symptoms can temporarily relieve their pain and discomfort using ice therapy to reduce the inflammation around the affected area as well as getting plenty of rest and elevation.
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As an athlete, individuals strive to properly warm up and stretch the body as well as exercise enough to strengthen the muscles, maintain flexibility, and improve stamina. However, injuries can often be unpredictable and sprains and strains are two commonly diagnosed conditions among athletes which are frequently confused from one another. But, sprains and strains greatly differ from one another. For more information, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at (915) 850-0900.
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
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