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Sprains and Strains (cont.)

How Can One Prevent a Sprain or Strain?

It is possible to prevent many sprains and strains from occurring. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons suggests the following to help reduce one's injury risk:

  • Participate in a conditioning program to build muscle strength.
  • Do stretching exercises daily.
  • Always wear properly fitting shoes.
  • Nourish the muscles by eating a well-balanced diet.
  • Warm up before any sports activity, including practice.
  • Use or wear protective equipment appropriate for that sport.

In addition to the above suggestions, prevent future sprains and strains by

  • maintaining a healthy weight;
  • wearing proper-fitting shoes, designed for the specific activity;
  • keeping household areas safe to prevent falls; and
  • not participating in sports or exercise if overly tired or in pain.

What Is the Recovery Time After Treatment of a Sprain or Strain?

Mild sprains or strains may take two to six weeks for recovery, while severe sprains or strains may take six months to a year to fully heal.

A grade 1 strain, which is mild, requires two to three weeks of rest for recovery.

Grade 2 strains are more extensive and usually three to six weeks of recovery time is needed.

A grade 3 strain is a complete rupture of a muscle and may require surgery to repair, with at least three months of rehabilitation.

If there are other associated injuries to the bones or surgery is required, healing time and complications will increase.

Complications of sprains and strains include joint dislocation, pain and recurring swelling, ruptured muscle, or cartilage injuries.

What Is Prognosis for Sprains and Strains?

The prognosis of a sprain or strain injury depends on the severity and the site of the injury. Most sprains and strains heal completely with adequate treatment, though there will be a higher risk of reinjuring the same area again.

Medically reviewed by Aimee V. HachigianGould, MD; American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery


American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. "Sprained Ankle." February 2016. <>.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. "Sprains and Strains: What's the Difference?" Oct. 2007.<>.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. "Sprains, Strains and Other Soft-Tissue Injuries." July 2015. <>.

American College of Sports Medicine. "Sprains, Strains and Tears." <>.

United States. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. "Questions and Answers About Sprains and Strains." July 2012. <>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/18/2016

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