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What is the Difference Between a Sprain and a Strain?

What is the Difference Between a Sprain and a Strain?

Say that you have an injury – and you can walk on your affected knee, or ankle, or move your arm or wrist somewhat functionally – but you’re not sure if it’s a sprain or a strain. How can you tell? While similar, these injuries do affect different facets of the structure of the body.

A sprain occurs when you overstretch or tear a ligament, which is what we call any of the bands of fibrous tissue that connect bones to other bones. A strain, while also considered overstretching or a tear, happens with a tendon, which connects muscles to bones.

A sprain can happen to the ankle, knee, wrist, or thumb. You might hear a popping sound at the time of injury with a sprain.

Symptoms of Sprains and Strains

The symptoms of strains and sprains are very easy to confuse. Sprains can have pain around a joint, causing swelling and limitations to flexibility, and difficulty regarding your range of motion – but also can cause bruising. Strains typically do not have bruising, although you may have the other symptoms of pain, swelling, and loss of flexibility and range of motion, as well as muscle spasms and muscle cramping, which more highly indicate a strain.

Causes of Sprains and Strains

Sprains and strains can both be caused by a variety of factors. Many sprains and strains are caused by accidents. Other causes may include: overexerting while running, exercising, and participating in other activities; bad posture; repetitive motions; improper footgear or equipment; using equipment improperly; forgetting to warm up; being overtired while exercising; or a risky environment such as rough terrain or wet or icy surfaces. A person of any age can get a sprain or a strain, but regularly strengthening and training your muscles can help prevent these issues.

Treatments for Sprains and Strains

Always consult with a licensed physician if you believe you may have sprained or strained something on your body, so your doctor can advise you on the best course of action.  Treatment for either a sprain or strain includes implementing rest, utilizing over-the-counter pain medications and/or anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling, periodically using ice or cold compacts, compression such as that provided by a knee sleeve or elbow sleeve, and elevation when possible. A knee or elbow sleeve provides stability and promotes blood flow and a constant supply of nutrients to the area, which is critical to healing quickly. It is important to allow time for healing so that you do not re-injure the area when restarting activities. 

Preventative Measures to take for a Sprain or Strain

Preventative measures can be taken to prevent further injury, such as taking the time to stretch – especially after exercise and activities, exercising regularly, pausing to take into consideration possibly risky environmental factors, warming up with a brisk walk before activities, taking breaks when needed to avoid overexertion, and investing in good equipment and proper footwear. When resuming activities after a sprain or strain, consider whether continuing to wear a knee sleeve or elbow sleeve would be beneficial for keeping the area warm, supplied with proper blood flow, and supported properly.

Where to Find Knee Sleeves and Elbow Sleeves

Looking for a high-quality knee sleeve or elbow sleeve so that you can recover from a sprain or strain, or prevent one from occurring? Look no further than Physix Gear Sports! We have the world’s best knee sleeves and elbow sleeves to meet your needs so that you can recover quickly and then continue an active and healthy lifestyle. Check out our products today! There’s no risk with our 100% satisfaction guarantee.

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