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Sprains and Strains


A sprain is  a complete or incomplete tear in the ligaments that support the surrounding joint.  A strain is an acute or chronic injury to a muscle or tendinous attachment.  Sprains and strains are both classified as mild, moderate or severe in acuteness.


Sprains and strains has moderately different pathyphysiologies:


  1. * A ligament in the body tears causing the affected area to bleed
  2. * A hematoma forms
  3. * Inflammatory exudates spills from the torn ligament area
  4. * Granulation tissue develops
  5. * Collagen forms
  6. * The nerves or vessels begin to swell or stretch
  7. * Chronic joint instability and laxity result.


  1. * Strains result from the same process as sprains do.
  2. * New muscle will form and eventually become strong enough to withstand normal muscle activity.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes can include:

  1. * Falling down
  2. * Car or other motor vehicle accidents
  3. * Trauma
  4. * Excessive or new exercise
  5. * Sports injury

Risk factors can include:

  1. * Participating in sports or other moderately to extremely strenuous physical activities.

Common Characteristics of Sprains and Strains:


  1. * Localized pain
  2. * Swelling and warmth in the affected area
  3. * Progressive loss of motion
  4. * Ecchymosis


  1. * Pain 
  2. * Inflammation
  3. * Ecchymosis
  4. * Elevated skin temperature in the affected area


While surgery may be possibly necessary for some extreme sprains and strains, most can be treated without surgery, and only require general non-medication oriented treatments or some use of medication to alleviate pain, swelling, etc. 


  1. * Using the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation)
  2. * Rehab and exercise program
  3. * Limited weight bearing activity that could hurt the injured area
  4. * Elevation of affected joint above the level of the heart for 48 to 72 hours
  5. * ROM (range-of-motion) exercises.


  1. * Vitamin C supplements
  2. * Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  3. * Analgesics
  4. * Cox-2 inhibitors


  1. * Depends on the extent of the injury


  1. * Better mobility
  2. * Diminishing levels of pain
  3. * Increased comfort
  4. * Identify factors that increase the chance of injury