If you had to choose between a strain or sprain, which malady would you prefer to endure? Truthfully, neither are much fun but most people don’t realize that there’s a difference between the two.
Difference Between Sprains and Strains
A sprain is a condition caused by bands of tissue, known as ligaments, being stretched too far and often in the wrong direction. Ligaments connect bones together. The most common type of sprain is when ligaments in the ankle are overstretched. If you “turn” an ankle, the result is often a sprain.
A strain is similar to a sprain, except that with strains the muscles and tendons are majorly affected, rather than ligaments. Tendons are heavy bands of fibrous tissue that connect your bones to your muscles. The most common muscle affected by strains is the hamstring. Back strains are also quite common.
Sprains and strains share similar symptoms, including:
- Pain (the most common)
- Loss of mobility
Range of motion is negatively affected with both conditions, and though you may be able to function, range of motion in the sprained or strained area is limited.
The only difference between symptoms of sprains and strains is that sprains cause bruising, and strains do not. Strains affect muscle and lead to muscle spasms instead.
What Causes Sprains and Strains
A sprain or strain can seem to happen out of nowhere. You might simply turn in an awkward position and incur an uncomfortable sprain or strain. It happens occasionally. However, certain situations create a higher risk of spraining or straining a part of your body.
Athletes face more incidents of sprains and strains due to a physical activity or exercise that places stress on joints or muscles.
Any repetitive motion or state of overexertion can physically stress the body, leading to risk of sprain or strain.
Awkward Movements or Positions
Sitting, turning, or standing without concentrating on how you’re moving can quickly turn into a sprain or strain.
Improperly lifting heavy objects is dangerous to ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Warm up first, and use proper form when lifting, or you could face a sprain or strain.
Risk Factors for Sprain or Strain
Anyone can sprain or strain a body part. But certain risk factors increase the chance of occurrence.
Areas of the Body
The most common areas in the body that are susceptible to sprains or strains are the back, ankle, wrist, knee – and believe it or not – the thumb.
As mentioned before, sports and exercise place you at risk, but so does being out of shape. The better shape your body is in, the better it moves with more fluidity. Weak muscles fail to support the body’s sudden movements, leaving you vulnerable to sprain or strain.
Athletes should always warm up before exercise or playing sports. Warm muscles and tendons have more flexibility and range of motion since they were stretched beforehand. Cooling down following exercise is equally important because it transitions the body more smoothly from an active to sedentary state.
Your surroundings can be a hazard. Surfaces that are slippery or that aren’t mopped up when wet present an opportunity to slip and fall. Some hazards can be controlled, like icy steps and walkways at entrances to your own home, or debris left over from a storm that lands in private pathways.
But there are public hazards that you can’t control. It pays to be careful when walking, jogging, or running in public places. Take precautions to avoid the risks that could cause a slip or fall resulting in a sprain, strain, or worse.
Orthopedic Experts in San Antonio
Patients treated at the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine rave about the care they receive. We’ve been successful at assisting them with their orthopedic concerns and we can help you, too.
Call (210) 692-7400 to learn more or schedule an appointment. You may also request an appointment online. We look forward to caring for all of your orthopedic needs.