Sprains and strains – 1

Sprains and strains are commonly occurring injuries.
Sprain – this is an injury which occurs with tearing, stretching or twisting of the ligaments. Ligaments are tough and resilient tissue bands which connect one bone to the other, keeping them together and in the right position. Sprain affects the ligaments surrounding a joint, such as knee or ankle. The joint, itself, does not get fractured or dislocated. A minor sprain causes stretching of some fibres within the ligament. More serious sprains can be caused by partial or complete tearing of the ligament. Ligament damage causes pain, bruising and inflammation around the concerned joint. Sprains occur mostly in the ankle, wrist, thumb and knee.
Strain – also referred to as a muscle pull, a muscle strain is stretching or tearing of the fibres or tissues of the muscle. Muscle strains are most often due to over-stretching or forced contracting of the concerned muscles.


Symptoms of sprains include:

  • Pain in the region of the affected joint
  • Bruising
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Sensitivity
  • Inability of the joint to bear weight and be used normally
  • The swelling associated with sprain often appears soon after an injury. Bruising may show up later or may not show at all. It may occur at some distance from the joint as the blood from the injury site seeps out and runs beside the muscles around the joint before reaching just under the skin.

Symptoms of strains are dependant on the severity of the injury and include the below:

  • Pain in the injured muscle
  • Swelling
  • Bruising

One should seek medical or professional help for sprains or strains in the below circumstances:

  • One has extreme pain and is not able to put any load on the affected muscle or joint
  • The injured joint becomes immobile
  • The damaged area looks abnormal with distortions, bumps or lumps which are different from swelling.
  • Pain persists without any improvement, even after four days of treatment at home.
  • There is numbness in any area in the injury site
  • The limb is incapable of movement even when you try to use it.

Causes of sprains and strains

The likelihood of getting sprains and strains increases with the below:

  • Over-stretch to reach out
  • Changing direction abruptly and rapidly
  • Accelerate or decelerate suddenly
  • Crash into an object
  • Experience a jolt in a joint
  • Fall in an awkward position

Sprains and strains are very commonly associated with exercising and sports activities as these involve jerky movements, sudden falls and crashes, abrupt changes in speeds and thus risk of injury is high.
Ankle sprains often occur when walking or running over irregular and uneven ground, which leads of twisting of the ankle onto the outer side of the foot. The entire body’s weight is forced on the outer ligament of the ankle causing it to stretch or tear.
Listed below are factors which can make a person more prone to a sprain or strain injury:
Weak conditioning – lack of regular exercise makes joints less flexible and more vulnerable to injury
Poor technique – the manner in which a person balances the body weight while walking or running or the way in which he lands after jumping in an activity, determines one’s susceptibility to injuries
Fatigue – tired or exhausted muscles are incapable of providing support to the joints. Fatigue also affects one’s concentration which affects his control over body’s movements. This raises chances of stressing or over-using a joint
Lack of warm up before exercise – a good warm up flexes the muscles and increases the range of one’s joint movements. This reduces the chances of ligament injury.

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