What Is the Difference Between a Sprain and a Strain?
Our experienced doctors at Priority Urgent Care and Walk-In Clinic have an abundance of experience treating various sprains and strains. We welcome you to come for a walk-in appointment! For more information, please contact us. We have convenient locations to serve you in Ellington CT, Unionville CT, East Haven CT, Cromwell CT, Oxford, CT and Newington, CT.
Table of Contents:
Should you see a doctor for a sprain?
How might a doctor treat strains and sprains?
How long do strains and sprains take to heal?
What is the difference between a sprain and a strain?
Whether you had an awkward fall or movement at work while exercising, or while playing your sport of choice, sprains, and strains can happen to the best of us. However, in order to avoid further injury or complications, it is important to get the proper care and treatment when they do occur! At Priority Urgent Care and Walk-In Clinic, our experienced physicians would be happy to evaluate your sprain and provide any necessary treatment with care and expertise to help get you back up and running again!
Most mild sprains will heal on their own with sufficient rest, ice, compression, and elevation, also known as the RICE technique. However, it is never a bad idea to see a doctor for a sprain. What is more, many people who should see a doctor for a sprain do not, leading to worsening symptoms and potentially chronic conditions or musculoskeletal issues. With that in mind, we recommend that you see a doctor for a sprain if you notice any of the following symptoms with your injury:
• Difficulty walking or using the affected joint or ligament
• Inability to move or put direct pressure on the joint or ligament
• Injured area looks odd or deformed
• Significant bruising, pain, or swelling
• No improvement within one week of the injury
If at-home treatments and remedies, such as the RICE method or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), are insufficient to allow the injury to heal, treatment for a strain or sprain may involve some type of imaging, such as a digital x-ray, computerized tomography (CT) scan, or medical resonance imaging (MRI). Such scans and imaging can help your physician know if there are any fractures in the bones in the injured area and how severely the injured muscles, tendons, or ligaments have been stretched or torn.
Depending on what your doctor finds out from the scans or imaging, some form of immobilization or stabilization will likely be required to prevent further injury and give the injured ligament, tendons, or muscles the time and space to heal.
For severe Grade III strains or sprains, wherein the muscle, tendon, or ligament is completely torn or ruptured, surgery may be required to repair the soft tissue.
Once the sprain or strain has sufficiently healed, your doctor will also likely recommend physical therapy to help restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion to the injured area.
The length of time it takes for any strain or sprain to heal ultimately depends on the severity of the injury. With that in mind, most mild to moderate sprains and strains completely heal with full mobility restored within three to eight weeks. In contrast, more severe strains and sprains can take several months to heal due to reduced blood flow to the area, especially if surgery is required to repair the muscle, tendon, or ligament.
The primary difference between a sprain and a strain is the soft tissue that is affected by the injury. With that being said, a strain is an injury where the muscle or tendons, which are the tissues that attach your muscles to your bones, are stretched too far or torn completely. For this reason, strains are often referred to as a “pulled muscle.” In contrast, a sprain is an injury where the ligaments are stretched too far or torn. Your ligaments are the fibrous bands of tissue that hold the bones together at your joints.
To get expert care, please visit Priority Urgent Care. We have convenient locations to serve you in Connecticut. We serve patients from Ellington CT, Unionville CT, East Haven CT, Cromwell CT, Oxford CT, Newington CT, East Windsor CT, Somers CT, Burlington CT, Canton CT, Branford CT, New Haven CT, Middletown CT, Rocky Hill CT Seymour CT, Middlebury CT, Hartford CT, Addison CT, and BEYOND!
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