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Sprains and Strains

What is a Sprain?

A sprain is an injury to a ligament. A ligament is a thick, tough, fibrous tissue that connects bones together. The most commonly injured ligaments are in the ankle, knee, and wrist. The ligaments can be injured by being stretched too far from their normal position.

What are the symptoms of Strain or Sprain?

The most common symptoms of a sprain are: pain, swelling, and bruising of the affected joint. Symptoms will vary with the intensity of the sprain or strain.

What do ligaments do?

Ligaments hold your skeleton together in a normal alignment. They prevent abnormal movements. However, when too much force is applied to a ligament, such as in a fall, the ligaments can be stretched or torn; this injury is called a sprain.

What is a Strain?

A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon. Muscles move your skeleton. When a muscle contracts it pulls on a tendon, which is in turn connected to your bone. Muscles are made to stretch. However, if muscles are stretched too far, or stretched while contracting, a strain my occur. A strain can either be a stretching or tear of the muscle or tendon.

What causes a Sprain?

A sprain is caused by a ligament being stretched too far. One of the most common sprains is the 'twisted ankle.' The twisted ankle occurs often, usually during running, hiking, and basketball.

What causes a Strain?

Strains are injuries to muscles or the tendons that attach the muscles to your bones. By pulling too far on a muscle, or by pulling a muscle in one direction while it is contracting in the other direction can cause injuries within the muscle or tendon. Strains can also be caused by chronic activities that develop an overstretching of the muscle fibers.

Can Strains and Sprains be prevented?

Unfortunately, not all sprains and strain can be prevented. Some helpful hints on how to avoid strains and sprains are listed below.

  1. Stretch before you exercise or workout.
  2. Wear proper shoes for the activity.
  3. Warm up properly before activities.
  4. Do not run on icy or uneven surfaces.

When to see a Doctor

The list below is a good indicator of when you need to seek medical help for your injury.

  1. You have severe pain and cannot put any weight on the injured joint.
  2. The area over the injured joint or next to it is very tender when you touch it.
  3. The injured area looks crooked or has lumps and bumps (other than swelling) that you do not see on the uninjured joint.
  4. You cannot move the injured joint.
  5. You cannot walk more than four steps without significant pain.
  6. Your limb buckles or gives way when you try to use the joint.
  7. You have numbness in any part of the injured area.
  8. You see redness or red streaks spreading out from the injury.
  9. You injure an area that has been injured several times before.
  10. You have pain, swelling, or redness over a bony part of your foot.

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