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Sprains and Strains

Sprains and Strains Overview

The body is meant to move. Muscles allow that movement to happen by contracting and making joints flex, extend and rotate. Muscles attach on each side of the joint to bone by thick bands of fibrous tissue called tendons. When a muscle contracts, it shortens and pulls on the tendon, which allows the joint to go through a range of motion.

A strain occurs when the muscle tendon unit is stretched or torn. The most common reason is the overuse and stretching of the muscle. The damage may occur in three areas:

  • The muscle itself may tear.
  • The area where the muscle and tendon blend can tear.
  • The tendon may tear partially or completely (rupture).

Joints are stabilized by thick bands of tissue called ligaments which surround them. These ligaments allow the joint to move only in specific directions. Some joints move in multiple planes; therefore, they need more than one group of ligaments to hold the joint in proper alignment. The ligaments are anchored to bone on each side of the joint. If a ligament is stretched or torn, the injury is called a sprain.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/25/2014

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