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Sports Injuries: How to Tell If It's a Sprain or a Strain

Last updated 2 years ago

Athletes tend to suffer from a number of injuries, including those that affect their spines, necks, shoulders, wrists, hips, knees, and feet. Some of the most common sports injuries include sprains and strains—both of which can be treated by an orthopedic surgeon in Arizona. However, very few people have a clear understanding of the difference between these two injuries.


A sprain refers to a tearing or stretching of a ligament, or the fibrous bands of tissue that connect the ends of your bones and support and stabilize the joints within your body. Sprains are often the result of bodily trauma that overstretches the joint or knocks it out of position. In some cases, a sprain may be caused by a rupture of the supporting ligaments. The most common causes of sprains include falls or direct blows to the body. While the signs of a sprain may vary from patient to patient, the most common symptoms of a sprain include bruising, swelling, pain, and inflammation.


Unlike a sprain, a strain refers to an injury of a tendon or muscle and is often the result of repetitive, prolonged movements of the tendons and muscles. In some cases, chronic strains may be caused by a direct blow to the body, excessive muscle contraction, overstretching, or lack of rest between periods of intense physical activity. The most common symptoms of strains include muscle spasms, muscle weakness, swelling, inflammation, cramping, and pain.

The best ways to avoid both sprains and strains are to wear properly fitting shoes, perform stretching exercises on a daily basis, and warm up before participating in any type of sports activity. It is also a good idea to nourish your muscles by following a proper diet and conditioning your body to build muscle strength.

Whether you’re suffering from a sprain or strain, the orthopedic surgeons with The Orthopedic Clinic Association, also known as "TOCA",  are here to help. Visit our website or contact us at (602) 639-4027 to set up a consultation.


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