You have just sustained an injury while playing and you have swelling and pain in your foot. But you are not sure whether it’s a sprain or strain as you can’t quite identify the difference between the two. Don’t worry you’re not alone!
Strains and sprains are two very common sports injuries related to the Lower Limbs which are often used interchangeably to describe overstretching or tearing of soft tissues in and around your joints. But they are not the same with a few key differences which can help you differentiate between the two.
- Overstretching or tearing of ligaments
- May have bruising around the affected area
- Limited movement in the affected joint
- Common locations of sprain
Ankle sprain: can occur when walking or exercising on an uneven surface.
Knee sprain: Pivoting during an athletic activity
Wrist Sprain: Falling and landing with an outstretched hand
- Overstretching or tearing of muscles or tendons
- May have muscle spasm around the affected area
- Possible audible “pop” in the joint when the injury occurs
- Limited ability to move the affected muscle
- Common locations for a muscle strain
- Hamstring muscle
Lower back can happen after repetitive, prolonged movement during sports or while on the job
The symptoms of a sprain and a strain are very similar to the injuries themselves are very similar and no wonder the two conditions are frequently confused.
Treatment for a sprain or strain depends on the joint involved and the severity of the injury. Mild and even moderate sprains and strains can typically be treated at home with RICE therapy i.e. rest, ice, compression, elevation. Mild or moderate sprains or strains may require a brace or splint to immobilize the area.
The risk of both injuries can be decreased through the use of certain preventative measures:
- Protect your joints through strengthening and conditioning exercises, including stretching and stability exercises
- Keep your body in good physical condition, especially if you are playing a particular sport. Trying to play a sport when you are out of shape can put you at greater risk of injury
- Good shoes that offer support for your feet can also help prevent injury.