Sprains & Strains
The most common soft tissues injured are muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These injuries often occur during sports and exercise activities, however injuries are not uncommon simple everyday activities.
Sprains and strains are common soft-tissue injuries. Even with appropriate treatment, these injuries may require a prolonged amount of time to heal.
Soft-tissue injuries fall into two basic categories: acute injuries and overuse injuries.
• Acute injuries are caused by a sudden trauma, such as a fall, twist, or blow to the body. Examples of an acute injury include sprains, strains, and contusions.
• Overuse injuries occur gradually over time, when an athletic or other activity is repeated so often, that areas of the body do not have enough time to heal between occurrences.
What is a Sprain?
A sprain is a stretch and/or tear of a ligament, a strong band of connective tissue that connect the end of one bone with another. Ligaments stabilize and support the body's joints. For example, ligaments in the knee connect the thighbone with the shinbone, enabling people to walk and run.
The areas of your body that are most vulnerable to sprains are your ankles, knees, and wrists. A sprained ankle can occur when your foot turns inward, placing extreme tension on the ligaments of your outer ankle. A sprained knee can be the result of a sudden twist, and a wrist sprain can occur when falling on an outstretched hand.
What is a Strain?
A strain is an injury to a muscle and/or tendons. Tendons are fibrous cords of tissue that attach muscles to the bone. Strains often occur in your foot, leg (typically the hamstring) or back.
Similar to sprains, a strain may be a simple stretch in your muscle or tendon, or it may be a partial or complete tear in the muscle-and-tendon combination. Typical symptoms of a strain include pain, muscle spasm, muscle weakness, swelling, inflammation, and cramping.
How are Sprains & Strains treated?
Sprains and Strains vary in type and severity. When an acute injury occurs, initial treatment with the RICE protocol is usually very effective. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
• Rest. Take a break from the activity that caused the injury. Your doctor may recommend that you use crutches to avoid putting weight on your leg.
• Ice. Use cold packs for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
• Compression. To prevent additional swelling and blood loss, wear an elastic compression bandage.
• Elevation. To reduce swelling, elevate the injury higher than your heart while resting.
The area will be wrapped with a bandage to give support. The RICE protocol should be followed by simple exercises to relieve pain and restore mobility.