Sprains and Strains: What’s The Difference?
A sprain is a stretch and/or tear of a ligament, the fibrous band of connective tissue that joins the end of one bone with another. Ligaments stabilize and support the body’s joints. For example, ligaments in the knee connect the upper leg with the lower leg, enabling people to walk and run. On the other hand, a strain is an injury of a muscle and/or tendon. Tendons are fibrous cords of tissue that attach muscles to bone.
Signs Of A Sprain
While the intensity varies, pain, bruising, swelling, and inflammation are common to all three categories of sprains: mild, moderate, severe. The individual will usually feel a tear or pop in the joint. A severe sprain produces excruciating pain at the moment of injury, as ligaments tear completely, or separate from the bone. This loosening makes the joint nonfunctional. A moderate sprain partially tears the ligament, producing joint instability, and some swelling. A ligament is stretched in a mild sprain, but there is no joint loosening.
Signs Of A Strain
Typical indications include pain, muscle spasm, muscle weakness, swelling, inflammation, and cramping. In severe strains, the muscle and/or tendon is partially or completely ruptured, often incapacitating the individual. Some muscle function will be lost with a moderate strain, where the muscle/tendon is overstretched and slightly torn. With a mild strain, the muscle/tendon is stretched or pulled, slightly.