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November 6th, 2015

Strain vs. Sprain

by Dr. Jordan Leasure

The Difference Between a Strain and a Sprain

A strain is a slight stretching or complete rupture/tear of muscle fibers.  This injury usually occurs

between the muscle belly and the tendon of the muscle.  This can occur within muscle fibers when the

fibers become over stretched or when the muscle generates more forces than it can stand.  There are

three degrees for muscles strains:

  •  First-degree: involves over stretching of some of the muscle fibers which can cause point tenderness in the involved area, mild swelling, and pain with muscle contraction.
  •  Second-degree: involves some of the muscle fibers actually tearing. Some of the symptoms include point tenderness to the involved muscle, swelling, bruising, and pain with muscle contraction.
  •  Third-degree: involves a complete rupture/tear to the muscle fibers and blood vessels. Symptoms for this include pain, loss of function, evident defect where the muscle ruptured, swelling, and bruising.

A sprain is a slight stretching or complete tear of ligaments within a joint. This injury most commonly

occurs in the knee and ankle.  There are three degrees of sprains:

  •  First-degree: involves stretching of the ligament fibers. Symptoms include pain at the site of injury, mild swelling and point tenderness.
  •  Second-degree: involves slight tearing of ligament fibers. Symptoms includes joint laxity, pain, swelling, and loss of range of motion in the affected joint.
  •  Third-degree: involves complete tearing of the ligament and possible nerves being torn, as well. Symptoms include instability, excessive joint laxity, severe swelling, pain (depending on if nerves were torn or not), and complete loss of function for the affected joint.

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