Sprains and strains are common orthopedic injuries, which are injuries of the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles. Though people tend to use these terms interchangeably, a sprain is an injury to a ligament, while a strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon. They can happen anywhere in the upper or lower body, but most commonly affect the ankles. In fact, more than 23,000 ankle sprains are estimated to occur every single day in the United States alone.
Sprains are often the result of a trauma (e.g., falling or twisting) and strains are often the result of overstretching or overusing. Athletes, people who have had sprains and strains before and those who are overweight have the highest risk of sustaining a sprain or strain. Other risk factors for sprains and strains include:
Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a general term used to describe the pain felt in the muscles, nerves and tendons as a result of repetitive movement and overuse. Strains are common overuse injuries and are considered microtraumas, which means they’re caused by repetitive stress to bones, joints, ligaments, tendons or muscles. Symptoms of an overuse strain injury can range from mild to severe and typically develop gradually. They often include:
If left untreated, symptoms of RSI may become chronic, leading to longer periods of pain and discomfort. You may also experience prolonged periods of swelling in the affected area. Here are common treatment options for RSI:
Common symptoms of minor sprain injuries include:
If you are unable to put weight on the affected joint, have pain directly over the bone or have numbness in any part of the injured area, it’s important to get treated by a medical professional to avoid further complications.
Most mild to moderate sprain injuries are easily treatable at home with the RICE approach, which includes a combination of rest, ice, compression and elevation:
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, like Ibuprofen, can also help reduce symptoms. If after 2 days you do not notice a significant improvement of symptoms or you are unable to bear weight on the affected joint, visit your local urgent care for immediate medical care. The board-certified physicians at Coastal Urgent Care of Bossier/Haughton can help alleviate the pain and discomfort of mild to severe sprain and strain injuries. We welcome walk-in appointments Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., or Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.