When you twist an ankle or wrench your back, you probably don’t care whether you call it a strain or a sprain, it just hurts. But there is a difference between the two. The distinction isn’t a level of severity, as many might suspect. A strain is not a less severe sprain or vice versa.
The first difference to note between these two injuries, is their textbook definitions. A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon, while a sprain is an injury to a ligament. As they are known to affect different types of structures, they are by definition, completely separate ailments. The problem for most, is that they sound so much alike. Structurally and functionally tendons and ligaments perform very different jobs. Both strains and sprains are classified by degrees of severity, ranging from first to third degree. The differences in degrees essentially reflect the degree of overstretching or damaging force applied to the tendon, muscle or ligament.
A sprain is an injury to a ligament, the strong bands of tissue that connect a bone to another at a joint. The severity of a sprain can be classified by the amount of tissue tearing, impact on joint stability, pain and swelling.
DEGREES OF SPRAINS
- First degree (mildest) – little tearing, pain or swelling; joint stability is good.
- Second degree – broadest range of damage, with moderate instability and moderate to severe pain and swelling.
- Third degree (most severe) – ligament is completely ruptured; joint is unstable; severe pain and swelling; other tissues are often damaged.
A strain is damage to muscle fibers and to the other fibers that attach the muscle to the bone. Other names for a strain include “torn muscle,” “muscle pull” and “ruptured tendon.”
DEGREES OF STRAINS
- First degree (mildest) – little tissue tearing; mild tenderness; pain with full range of motion.
- Second degree – torn muscle or tendon tissues; painful, limited motion; possibly some swelling or depression at the spot of the injury.
- Third degree (most severe) – limited or no movement; pain will be severe at first,but may be painless after the initial injury
FIRST AID FOR SPRAINS AND STRAINS
Suggestions for immediate treatment of acute sprains or strains include:
- Stop your activity
- Rest the injured area
- Use ice packs every two hours, applied for 15 minutes and separated from the skin by wet towelling
- Compress or bandage the injured site firmly, extending the wrapping from below to above
- Elevate (raise) the injured area above heart height whenever practical
- Avoid exercise, heat, alcohol and massage, which can exacerbate swelling
- If symptoms get worse in the first 24 hours, see your doctor for further medical investigation.
EFFECTIVE TREATMENT FOR SPRAIN AND STRAIN
A study reported in The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that patients receiving chiropractic care for a sprain or strain lost an average of 2.3 days less of work than patients receiving care from a medical physician (MD), and 3.8 days less work than those receiving osteopathic care. The study went on to conclude that “generally, fewer workdays were lost and lower amounts of disability compensation and provider cost paid when chiropractic was included in the care pattern.” (Johnson, Schultz, Ferguson: 1982)
As experienced chiropractors in Augusta GA, Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic has successfully treated patients for their sprains and strains, whether with chiropractic treatments alone or implementing our cold laser technology into your customized treatment. Many of Augusta’s athletes regularly rely on their customized treatments at Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic to not only address acute injuries such as sprains and strains, but to help prevent future ones from occurring.
The Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic Blog is written by Dr. Mark Huntsman.
Augusta GA Chiropractor Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic provides customized chiropractic care to the Augusta GA , Martinez GA, and Evans GA communities. Visit our main website at www.georgia-clinic.com for customized chiropractic in Augusta GA.