Sprains vs. Strains

Is it a Sprain or a Strain?

Sprains and strains sound and look alike. You’ll have pain, swelling and soreness. Sprains happen when a ligament is stretched or torn, while a strain is an overstressed or torn muscle or tendon. Sprains tend to happen suddenly (think side tackle in football), and  strains are more apt to happen over time – like carrying heavy boxes all day from moving.

Fact: A mild sprain can heal after a few weeks, but a sever sprain may take a year.

How To Prevent Injury?

Whether you play pickle ball on a court or lift weights in the gym, heres how to ward off sprains and strains.

  1. Variety – Change it up. Doing the same thing over and over again can cause overuse injury. Switch up your sport or your workout to use different muscles for overall balance.
  2. Warm up – It will loosen your muscles and joints and prepare your body for activity.
  3. Rest – Take a rest day in-between your sports or workout days.
  4. Wear Good Footwear – Make sure your shoes are for your sport.  Thicker soles and taller cuts can help stop your ankles from rolling into a sprain.
  5. Sleep – Research shows you are more likely to injury yourself if you don’t get enough sleep.

Treatment:

Remember RICE

  1. Rest: Do not exert the injured extremity. Continuing to hobble around on a sprained ankle is only going to make the injury take longer to heal. Avoid bearing weight on the injury for at least 24 hours.
  2.  Ice: It will help slow swelling and relieve pain. Ice the injury asap and for 20-30 minutes every 4 hours.
  3. Compress: Wrap the injury in an elastic bandage to help support and immobilize the site of injury. It will also help reduce swelling in the area. Do not wrap so tightly as to impede circulation.
  4. Elevate: Use gravity to your advantage to assist draining fluid from the injured extremity.

When To See A Doctor:

Both strains and sprains can be serious, so don’t just “walk it off.” Go see if a doctor if:

  1. If the pain doesn’t go away in a few days.
  2. If you’re experiencing numbness or tingling.
  3. You’re limping.
  4. Pain is interfering with your daily life or sleep.
  5. You have fever or chills, which could be a sign of infection.

Fact: 62% of sports-related injuries happen at practice.

Have These Supplies On Hand

  1. Ice pack or bag of peas.
  2. Ibuprofen to reduce swelling or acetaminophen to relive pain
  3. Menthol gel like Biofreeze to provide some cooling relief
  4. Brace

Should You See A PT?

Physical therapy can be expensive, but it can definitely be worth it. If you don’t retrain the muscles to work in concert after a bad injury, it can lead to more injuries in the future. A physical therapist can give you exercises to do on your own, making even one appointment beneficial.

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