Sprains and strains are common injuries that share similar signs and symptoms, but involve different parts of your body.
A sprain is a stretching or tearing of ligaments — the tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect two bones together in your joints. The most common location for a sprain is in your ankle.
A strain is a stretching or tearing of muscle or tendon. A tendon is a fibrous cord of tissue that connects muscles to bones. Strains often occur in the lower back and in the hamstring muscle in the back of your thigh.
Initial treatment for both sprains and strains includes rest, ice, compression and elevation. Mild sprains and strains can be successfully treated at home. Severe sprains and strains sometimes require surgery to repair torn ligaments, muscles or tendons.
Jan. 24, 2015
Most ankle sprains involve injuries to the three ligaments on the outside of your ankle. Ligaments are tough bands of tissue that stabilize joints and help prevent excessive movement. An ankle sprain occurs when you roll, twist or turn your ankle in an awkward way. This can stretch or tear the ligaments that help hold your ankle bones together.
- 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.
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