Of the numerous injuries that may be sustained during a sports event or any physical activity, perhaps none can be more common than sprains and strains. While this may be minor in some cases, nonetheless, this can still cause pain and discomfort and may require that the individual stay away from any activities for a certain period of time.
Sprains and Strains are Two Different Conditions
To a lot of people, sprain and strain may mean the same thing and are used interchangeably. Although there may similarities, these two conditions are really different. A sprain is an injury affecting the ligament. This is the tough and fibrous tissue that connects the bone to another bone. Injuries to ligaments usually involve stretching or tearing of the tissue.
On the other hand, a strain is an injury to the muscle or tendon, the tissues that connect the muscles to the bones. This type of injury may involve the overstretching of the muscle or tendon, or it can be a partial or complete tear.
Causes of Sprains and Strains
The usual causes of sprains include falling and landing on an outstretched arm, landing on the side of the foot, twisting a knee while the foot is firmly planted on the ground, and sliding into a base. In these instances, the ligaments become overstretched resulting to a condition called a sprain.
Strains can be acute or chronic. A chronic strain is the result of the prolonged and repetitive movement of the muscles or tendons. An injury or trauma to a body, overstressing the muscles, the improper lifting of an object may result to what is called an acute strain.
Symptoms of Sprains and Strains
Sprains are usually indicated by pain, swelling, bruising, and loss of functional ability. In some instances, a person may feel a pop during the actual occurrence of the injury. Depending on the severity of the sprain, these symptoms may vary in intensity, with some resulting to excruciating pain.
A person experiencing a strain may feel pain, muscle spasm, and muscle weakness. If the strain is somewhat severe, there might be swelling on the affected area, cramping, inflammation, and some loss of muscle function. The very serious strains, those that may result to complete tears of the muscle or tendon, can even be disabling to the patient.
Treatment of Sprains and Strains
Generally, treatment of sprains and strains are the same. For these injuries, it is very important to see a doctor immediately. He or she will assess the damage and may have to conduct a more thorough examination before suggesting a treatment program. These may involve taking medications, using crutches, or even undergoing surgeries for the very serious cases.
In the initial management of sprains and strains, the objective, especially in the first two days, is to reduce the swelling and pain. This is usually achieved using the RICE method which involves:
- (R) Resting the injured area
- (I) Putting ice for about 20 minutes at a time
- (C) Applying compression to reduce the swelling
- (E) Elevating the injured part at above the heart level
In most cases, the doctor may ask the patient to do some exercises to prevent stiffness and increase strength. There may be a need to undergo physical therapy. This will be for the best since the therapist will come up with the best program designed to address the patient’s needs and requirement.