Velocity Care helps you determine the difference between a strain and a sprain
Soft tissues are often the first parts of the body to get injured in an accident or while participating in physical activity or sports. These soft tissues are most commonly known as connective tissues. They surround the bones and organs in the body and are made up of tendons, ligaments, fibrous tissue, skin and membranes. The most common injury to the soft tissue are strains and sprains.
What is a strain?
A strain is a type of injury that occurs to either a muscle or a tendon. It happens when the affected soft tissue stretches and then contracts again. A strain can happen very quickly or may occur over a period of time, after repetitive stress on a tendon or muscle. The symptoms of a strain are pain (either dull and achy or sharp and severe), loss of strength, limited range of motion and possibly, muscle spasms.
What is a sprain?
A sprain is a type of injury that occurs to a ligament. A ligament is a type of soft tissue that connects two bones together or helps to provide stability to a joint. This type of injury usually happens when a tendon is stretched beyond its usual range of motion and can sometimes become torn. The symptoms of a sprain can include pain (usually sharp and somewhat severe), instability in the joint, swelling, bruising and inflammation.
How can I prevent these types of injuries?
- Try to avoid falls. Use handrails when walking down stairs and shovel walkways during winter to ensure they are free of snow and ice.
- Wear proper shoes. A shoe that fits well will offer support to the ankles and feet and will help to prevent falling or rolling your ankle.
- Maintain a healthy weight. A healthy weight will put less stress on your joints and help to keep them protected.
- Stretch before sports or exercise. Stretching or a quick warm up will gradually get your body ready for physical activity and will help to prevent injury.
- Wear proper protective gear. When playing a sport, make sure to wear the proper gear to protect yourself. Also, use a tensor bandage to wrap any joints that have had previous injuries to help give them support.
What should I do if I am injured?
If you suspect that you have suffered a strain or a sprain, it is important to have a doctor check your injury first. Your local urgent care team will be able to identify a strain or a sprain from a broken bone and give you the treatment that you need. Once you determine if your injury is a strain or sprain, you can follow the RICE regimen:
- Rest: Rest the injured area; take any pressure off of it; and try to move it as little as possible. Using crutches or a sling may be a good idea.
- Ice: Apply ice to the injured area for no more than 20 minutes at a time and repeat this six to eight times a day to reduce swelling and inflammation and relieve pain.
- Compression: Using a tensor bandage or similar type of compression device will help to provide support to the area. Be sure that the compression is not too tight and loosen it immediately if you start experiencing numbness, tingling or loss of feeling.
- Elevate: Keeping the injured area elevated above the level of your heart will help to minimize swelling.
If you are injured and suspect you are suffering from a strain or a sprain, Velocity Care is here to help. Our team of emergency doctors can take an X-ray to quickly identify a soft tissue injury from a broken or fractured bone and give you the immediate treatment that you need. Visit www.velocitycare.com to find the walk-in clinic nearest you.
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