When you suffer a sports injury, your first thought is likely “When is my pain going to stop?” And while you might not be thinking about whether you have suffered a strain or a sprain, the two injuries are very different. Regardless of what your injury is, you should get to a doctor of sports medicine as quickly as possible to have your injury properly examined and diagnosed.
Many people think that sprains and strains are the same injury, just at different levels of intensity. However, there are a few considerable differences between these two types of injuries. Sprains are injuries that happen to ligaments, the thick tissue that supports joints and muscles and helps hold them in their proper place. Strains, on the other hand, are injuries that occur to muscles or tendons. For this reason, strains are also often called “pulled muscles.”
Both sprains and strains are classified by the intensity of the injury, using the terms Grade I, II, and III. Grade I sprains and strains are the least severe of the injuries, meaning there is pain but no complete tearing of ligaments or muscles. On the other hand Grade III is the most severe, meaning there is significant damage along with torn ligaments or other serious issues.
There are numerous reasons you may experience either a sprain or strain. Sprains are most often caused by overextension during intense physical activity. If a joint is pushed or jerked too far in any one direction, damage to the ligaments can occur, resulting in a sprain. Strains are frequently the result of repetitive motion and overuse. Minor impacts can also cause strains, but overuse is the most common cause.
If you’ve suffered a sprain or strain, visit an orthopedic or sports medicine doctor as soon as possible. Dr. Drew Stein is an orthopedic surgeon in New York City who is also trained in sports medicine. He can develop an aggressive, non-surgical treatment for most injuries, and can help you towards your recovery as quickly as possible. To schedule an appointment, call (212) 398-2300 today.