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Sprains and Strains

Sprains and Strains Facts

  • Sprains and strains are common orthopedic injuries. A sprain is an injury to a ligament, and a strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon.
  • A sprain is usually caused by trauma to a joint. A strain is usually the result of overstretching or overuse of muscles and tendons.
  • People at higher risk for sprains and strains include athletes, people who have had sprains and strains before, and those who are overweight.
  • Signs and symptoms of sprains and strains include pain, swelling, bruising, and decreased range of motion.
  • The main treatment (first aid) for all sprains and strains is RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
  • Home remedies may include over-the-counter pain relievers. Physical therapy or massage may also be prescribed.
  • Most sprains and strains heal completely with adequate treatment, though you will be at higher risk of re-injuring the same area again.
  • Prevent sprains and strains by stretching and conditioning, wearing the proper shoes for sports, and maintaining a healthy weight.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/5/2015

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Sprains and Strains:

Sprains and Strains - Treatment

What treatment was effective for your sprain or strain?

Sprains and Strains - Causes

What caused your sprain or strain?

Shoulder muscle pain

Sprains and Strains Symptoms

Muscle Strain Symptoms and Signs

  • Swelling, bruising or redness, or open cuts as a consequence of the injury
  • Pain at rest
  • Pain when the specific muscle or the joint in relation to that muscle is used
  • Weakness of the muscle or tendons (A sprain, in contrast, is an injury to a joint and its ligaments.)
  • Inability to use the muscle at all

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