What’s the Difference Between a Sprain and a Strain?

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a sprain and a strain? While the names of these two injuries are nearly identical, each impacts the body in a different way. Let’s take a closer look at how sprains and strains differ, their impact on an injured patient, and options for treatment. 

Strain vs. Sprain

A sprain involves injury to the ligaments holding the joint together, commonly occurring at the ankle, knee, wrist, and thumb joints. A strain involves injury to the muscle or tendons attaching the muscle to the bone, sometimes called a “pulled muscle.” Strains usually occur in your low back and hamstring but can also occur in your ankles, legs, elbows, and hands. Both sprains and strains are usually related to an acute injury with common symptoms including pain or tenderness, swelling, redness or bruising, and limited range of motion. 

How Do Strains and Sprains Impact Our Daily Life?

Both sprains and strains can occur at any age and through a variety of activities, including both work and sports. In fact, sprains and strains are in the top five most common athletic injuries, as well as one of the most common workplace injuries

In workplace injuries, the most commonly affected area is the back — people not stretching adequately or lifting properly when completing a physical task and suddenly find themselves in agonizing pain. Strains can also occur when a person performs repetitive tasks that overwork the muscles or tendons. Injuries can also occur if a person slips or falls, spraining the ligaments on impact or straining the muscle due to overextension.
In athletic or exercise injuries, sprains and strains are more likely to occur due to overuse, exhaustion, or impact. Overuse is the most common, due to the amount of time athletes spend in training and on the field. Exhaustion can lead to improper form or muscle weakness, which can also contribute to sprains and strains. In contact sports like football, sprains, and strains can occur during player collisions, or if a limb goes one way and the player goes the other. 

Both injuries can bench you, either from performing your daily duties on the job or interfering with your training. Neither one of those options is appealing to most people, which makes healing effectively (and quickly) important. These seemingly small injuries can also slow you down at home, preventing you from doing the things you enjoy, like a morning run, playing with the kids, walking the dog, or even just cooking a simple dinner. To help prevent sprains and strains, stretch your body before any physical activity and do additional strengthening exercises to keep your muscles in good shape. 

Treating Sprains and Strains: What is Active Release Technique?

If you think you have a strain or sprain there are some easy at-home steps you can take to help the immediate injury before seeing a doctor. Rest and avoid activities that cause pain. You can ice the area, and compress the area with an elastic wrap to help reduce swelling and elevate the injured body part. 

In addition to rest, there are other methods you can use to help accelerate your healing and manage pain. Active release technique (ART) is a patented technique that treats many small tissues in the body, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia. Many conditions that ART treats are due to overuse which can result in loss of normal function, pain, and weakness. Overuse of muscles and other soft tissues can result in tears, spasms, pulls, or hypoxia to the injured area which causes scar tissue to form. This makes it difficult for healthy tissues to move normally, causes muscle weakness, and puts extra tension on tendons. 

ART is noninvasive and beneficial for people who have tried other unsuccessful treatments. It utilizes targeted manipulations and tension while the patient performs specific movements. This helps to break up the scar tissue and promote healing. Some common conditions that benefit from active release technique include:

  • Lower back pain
  • Chronic neck pain
  • Tension headaches
  • Carpal tunnel Sciatic nerve pain
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Tennis elbow 
  • And more!

Treat Sprains and Strains with Accelerate Health

If you have recently suffered a sprain or strain, you don’t have to wait around for the pain to stop. Accelerate Health provides sprain and strain patients with a variety of treatment options, including ART. We can help you manage your pain, promote healing and break up scar tissue that hinders your progress. Call our offices today to discuss your options for treatment and set up a consultation. 

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