Sprains and Strains: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

What Are Sprains and Strains?

Sure, both are very common and some of their symptoms are similar (which we’ll discuss a bit more in a moment), but sprains and strains involve different parts of your body. Here’s the simplest way to put it:

  • Sprains: Stretching or Tearing Ligaments
  • Strains: Stretching or Tearing Muscles or Tendons

What Are the Symptoms of Sprains and Strains?

You mean you’ve never sprained your ankle or strained your neck or lower back before? Both typically involve pain and swelling, along with limited mobility in the impacted area. Sprains are known to cause swelling (for example a purplish ankle after a good sprain). Strains can cause muscle spasms (like in the lower back when you stand up after sitting at the computer for two hours). Early care can help to decrease the risk of further injury or a more serious condition.

What Causes Sprains and Strains?

Imagine you’re jogging at a moderate pace, and suddenly your forward foot hits a hole you didn’t see and twists with the full brunt of your body weight and momentum. Most of the time it’ll feel horrible – painful pressure, inflammation or burning, and lack of motion (AFTER…the adrenaline wears off later on). Strains happen when you demand too much from a muscle and the tendons all at once, or over a period of time through repetitive motions.

  • Sprains: Twisted Joint
  • Strains: Overburdened Muscle

How to Treat Sprains and Strains?

When not severe, over-the-counter meds, ice packs, anti-inflammatory creams, and rest often take care of the issue. Once you get into the severe categories, that’s when everyone gets to sign your cast or wrap. If you’re Alaskan, afterward you can come and visit Better Health Chiropractic and we’ll help you with physical therapy, chiropractic care services, and chiropractic massage therapy to ensure a speedy, healthy recovery. If you don’t take care of them, both sprains and strains can become a lifelong problem. It’s important to protect your body and visit a clinic when you feel the symptoms are too severe.

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How Long Does it Take to Heal a Sprain or a Strain?

Well, in most cases an ordinary strain or sprain can take about a week to heal, whereas a bad one can take 3 weeks to over a month, depending on what’s been injured. For example, a Grade 3 strain to your ACL could mean surgery. What’s important is to use RICE, Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation, as quickly as possible after you begin feeling pain.

How to Prevent Sprains and Strains?

Well, truth be told most sprains and strains happen by accident. Or, they happen suddenly without warning after long periods of stress. To help prevent strains, know what your body is capable of currently, when you’ve taken things a bit too far, and when your body gives you a warning. The best thing you can do to avoid strains is to exercise regularly in ways that challenge the smaller muscle groups that often are there to support the larger muscles and joints. For example, don’t always just do squats and deadlifts. Do some balancing and agility-building exercises as well.

Sprains & Strains Exercises

After a sprain or strain, any exercise is more about restoring range of motion, staving of stiffness, and rebuilding strength. Obviously, if you’ve sprained your forearm don’t do any Farmer Walks the next day with heavy weight. If you’ve sprained your ankle, no more trail running until it’s restored. But, low-impact exercises can be great when the activity won’t make the injury worse.

Sprains & Strains Stretches

Often here at Better Health Chiropractic, we help Alaskans recovering from severe sprains and strains through physical therapy rehabilitation. This involves specific types of stretching, depending on the impacted area, which assists the body in healing itself and re-strengthening muscles, tendons, ligaments, and their connections.