A sprain occurs when you overextend or tear a ligament while severely stressing a joint. Sprains often occur in the following circumstances:
- Ankle — Walking or exercising on an uneven surface
- Knee — Pivoting during an athletic activity
- Wrist — Landing on an outstretched hand during a fall
- Thumb — Skiing injury or overextension when playing racquet sports, such as tennis
There are two types of strains: acute and chronic. An acute strain occurs when a muscle becomes strained or pulled — or may even tear — when it stretches unusually far or abruptly. Acute strains often occur in the following ways:
- Slipping on ice
- Running, jumping or throwing
- Lifting a heavy object or lifting in an awkward position
A chronic strain results from prolonged, repetitive movement of a muscle. This may occur on the job or during sports, such as:
Jan. 24, 2015
- Questions and answers about sprains and strains. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Sprains_Strains/default.asp. Accessed July 23, 2014.
- Marx JA, et al. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 30, 2014.
- Sprains and strains: What's the difference? American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00111. Accessed July 23, 2014.
- Safran MR, et al. Instructions for Sports Medicine Patients. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 30, 2014.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.