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Sprains and Strains

Summary

A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament. Ligaments are tissues that connect bones at a joint. Falling, twisting, or getting hit can all cause a sprain. Ankle and wrist sprains are common. Symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising, and being unable to move your joint. You might feel a pop or tear when the injury happens.

A strain is a stretched or torn muscle or tendon. Tendons are tissues that connect muscle to bone. Twisting or pulling these tissues can cause a strain. Strains can happen suddenly or develop over time. Back and hamstring muscle strains are common. Many people get strains playing sports. Symptoms include pain, muscle spasms, swelling, and trouble moving the muscle.

At first, treatment of both sprains and strains usually involves resting the injured area, icing it, wearing a bandage or device that compresses the area, and medicines. Later treatment might include exercise and physical therapy.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Diagnosis and Tests

MRI of the Musculoskeletal System (American College of Radiology; Radiological Society of North America) Also in Spanish

Musculoskeletal Ultrasound (American College of Radiology; Radiological Society of North America) Also in Spanish

Prevention and Risk Factors

Stretching Safely and Effectively (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish

Treatments and Therapies

How to Care for a Sprained Ankle (American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society)

Strains and Sprains (Nemours Foundation)

Living With

How to Strengthen Your Ankle After a Sprain (American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society)

How to Stretch Your Ankle after a Sprain (American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society)

Mobility Aids: MedlinePlus Health Topic  (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish

Related Issues

What Are Sports Injuries?   (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases) Also in Spanish

Specifics

Hamstring Injury (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish

Sprained Thumb (American Society for Surgery of the Hand) Also in Spanish

Sprained Wrist (American Society for Surgery of the Hand) Also in Spanish

Whiplash  (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)

Clinical Trials

ClinicalTrials.gov: Sprains and Strains  (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles

References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Article: Differences in Sports Injury Types According to Taekwondo Athlete Types (Sparring,…

Article: Analysis of Injury Patterns in Men’s Football between the English League…

Article: The hamstrings are more impacted than the quadriceps after severe ankle…

Sprains and Strains — see more articles

Find an Expert

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases  Also in Spanish

Children

Ankle Sprain Treatment (American Academy of Pediatrics) Also in Spanish

Teenagers

Ankle Sprains (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish

Strains and Sprains (Nemours Foundation)

Patient Handouts

Ankle sprain – aftercare (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish

Elbow sprain — aftercare (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish

Foot sprain – aftercare (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish

Hamstring strain – aftercare (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish

Hip flexor strain — aftercare (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish

Sprains (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish

Strains (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish

Tendon repair (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish

Wrist sprain – aftercare (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish

The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.

Original Article – https://medlineplus.gov/sprainsandstrains.html

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