How Sprains and Strains are Different

Dr. Corey Fox
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Director of Massapequa Podiatry Associates

The names of the respective lower limb sports injuries sound similar, and they do have some commonalities, but sprains and strains are different conditions. If you suffer from either, you will likely want to understand what is happening. Now certainly, our professionals here at Massapequa Podiatry Associates can provide an accurate diagnosis for you, but there are some ways to tell which injury you’ve sustained.

Ankle sprain or muscle strainSprains and strains can be a bit misunderstood, with many people being unfamiliar as to how sprains and strains are different. This is rather understandable, given that there are several similarities between the two conditions, including some symptoms, risk factors, and treatment options. Both cause swelling and pain and are likely to have developed from physical activity. Additionally, treatment for both can be initiated with the RICE protocol (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and then proceed to the use of medication, therapy, and, when necessary, surgical procedures. The good news is that conservative care is often quite successful and surgery is not necessary in a majority of cases.

Those are all certainly ways that the conditions are similar, but there are some key distinctions with regard to how sprains and strains are different. This begins with the tissues affected by the respective injuries.

A strain is a muscle injury, whereas a sprain happens to a ligament. Muscle strains can be acute or chronic and they occur when muscle tissue is abruptly or unusually stretched beyond its normal range of movement. Sometimes, strains happen after repetitive, prolonged movement during sports or while on the job. Sprains, on the other hand, are experienced when a ligament in a joint is overextended due to excessive stress.

They share symptoms of pain and swelling, but a sprained ligament may also come with bruising, limited range of motion in the affected joint, and possible evening a “pop” noise at the time of injury. A strained muscle may lead to spasms and limited ability to move the affected muscle.

The good news with these injuries is that the risk for both can be decreased through the use of certain preventative measures, including regular strengthening and stretching exercises. For more information, give our office a call and we will be glad to help!

No matter what type of foot or ankle injury is causing difficulty or painful symptoms for you, our medical professionals at Massapequa Podiatry Associates provide accurate diagnoses and exceptional treatment. We will ensure you receive the care you need, so contact our Massapequa, NY office by calling (516) 541-9000 or request your appointment with us online today.

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