Sprains vs Strains


A sprain is an injury to a ligament. Ligaments are tissues that attach bones together


A strain is damage caused to muscle fibres, usually caused by stretching or tearing of the fibres. Most muscle strains happen when the muscle fibres are overstretched or forced to contract too tightly.

Symptoms of strains and sprains:

The main symptoms of both strains and sprains are:

  • Pain
  • tenderness around the area
  • redness
  • swelling and inflammation
  • some bruising
  • loss of strength
  • unwillingness to weight bear.

How can you minimise risk of sprains and strains?

The best prevention for sprains and strains are:

  • Warm up your muscles before undertaking your activity
  • Stretch your muscles throughout your body, focusing most on those that you expect to work the hardest
  • Dress appropriately
  • Make sure that you remain suitably hydrated

What is the best treatment for strains and sprains?

The best treatment is to think about PRICE:

  • – Protect the injured part from further damage
  • – Rest the injured  part.
  • I – ice, apply ice packs (wrapped in a tea towel to prevent skin damage) or frozen peas to the injured part as soon as possible for 10 minutes minimum.
  • – compression.  Apply a bandage to support the area for the first day or so but then remove to enable the joint to move properly
  • – Elevate to reduce swelling.

If in any doubt, seek medical advice if the swelling and bruising does not appear to be improving.

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