Sprain versus Strain? Do you know the difference

Sprain versus Strain?

When we suffer an injury we usually hear the terms sprain and strains.

But what do they mean?

What’s the difference?

Is there a difference?

Yeah, sort of - just like our previous blog on elbow pain – they are similar but we can explain all of the differences so that you can understand what these injuries mean.

We are aiming to give you the best advice and quality education on injury management and prevention in order to help you stay pain and injury free – we hope you enjoy this edition of the blog.

What is a strain?

A strain is a muscular or tendon injury.

It refers to the amount of fibres which have been strained in an injury.

Common examples of strains are hamstring, quads and calf strains. The muscle belly will have suffered an injury causing it to tear, thus leading to pain and dysfunction.

There are different types and grading of strains and they are as follows:

Grade I (mild) strains affect only a limited number of fibers in the muscle. There is no decrease in strength and there is a fully active and passive range of motion. Pain and tenderness are often delayed to the next day.

Grade II (moderate) strains have nearly half of muscle fibers torn. Acute and significant pain is accompanied by swelling and a minor decrease in muscle strength.

Grade III (severe) strains represent the complete rupture of the muscle. This means either the tendon is separated from the muscle belly or the muscle belly is actually torn in 2 parts. Severe swelling and pain and a complete loss of function are characteristic of this type of strain.

Mild strain can recover quickly within 2-4 weeks, more serious ones can extend up to 3 months plus. This will vary on which body part.

MSK Sports Injury Clinic
Mark Poolan
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