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Sprains vs. Strains — What’s The Difference and How Physical Therapy Helps

Maybe you’ve slid into the base wrong playing softball in your Bradenton rec league, or even landed wrong during a workout, and now your back is in throbbing pain? Whatever the case may be, the fact is sprains and strains happen all the time, and if you don’t understand the difference between them, you could be doing the wrong recovery exercises. Which ultimately leads to the potential of hurting yourself more than you did initially. 

Fortunately, your sports medicine and recovery pros at Impact Medical are here to help. Today, we’ve put together this mini guide to sprains and strains where you’ll learn the difference between the two and how our physical therapy specialists can help you recover faster, stronger, and better through expertise and personalized care. 

Sprains Vs. Strains—What’s The Difference? 

So, you’ve probably noticed some swelling, bruising, and even experienced pain or discomfort when you walk or move, right? But which is it, a sprain or a strain? This is where it can get confusing for many people, and we’re going to show you why.

These are the most common symptoms of both a strain and a sprain: 

  • Pain 
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation

When you look at that, it makes sense why you would be confused when determining if you’ve sprained or strained your ankle. But there are other symptoms and more than differentiate these two that are important to understand. 

What is a Sprain?

A sprain happens when you stretch and/or tear a ligament. Ligaments are tough bands of connective tissue that join the ends of bones together. Their job is to stabilize your joints, and a sprain happens by a direct or indirect shock that knocks a joint out of position. There are three levels of sprains that range from mild and moderate to severe. If you feel a tear or pop in the joint, chances are you’re suffering from a sprain. 

What Is a Strain?

A strain happens when you injure your muscle or tendon. Tendons help attach your muscles to your bones, and strains are caused when you overuse these muscles or tendons. This type of injury also has a range from mild and moderate to severe. But strains come with some other symptoms that you won’t necessarily find in a sprain injury, including:

  • Muscle Spasm
  • Muscle Weakness

How Physical Therapy Helps?

When it comes to healing from a strain, the most important thing is rest and ice. Working with the sports injury specialists at Impact Medical can help you introduce stretching and strengthening back into your routine. We’re able to understand when it’s the right time to bring those things into your routine because many people start incorporating those too early. Resting is critical, and our pros are here to help guide you.

Now, for sprains—these can’t be healed effectively without the help of physical therapy. This is because you’re dealing with ligaments that also have a muscle that helps do the same action, which means you need to build up the muscles as well. So, to build better strength and resilience against future sprains, physical therapy is the ultimate solution. 

If you’ve experienced an injury you feel may be a strain or sprain, the pros at Impact Medical are here to help get you back on the field again so you can enjoy the beautiful Bradenton sunshine! Call us today to start taking control of your recovery tomorrow!