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  • Writer's pictureBankstown Physiotherapy

KNOW YOUR INJURY: The difference between a strain, sprain, and a break

With the growing age of the internet and social media comes the growing tendency for self-diagnosis via internet software. However, in many cases, self-diagnosing injuries or illness can lead to extreme adverse effects, particularly if the correct treatment is not sought out immediately.

Increasingly have trends shown that many individuals avoid visiting doctors or trained practitioners as they are incorrectly informed about what they are experiencing. This has become extremely common with strains, sprains, and breaks as the level of pain is generally the same however the type of injury and symptoms may vary significantly.

So what exactly defines each of these injuries?

Sprains A stretch or tear of a ligament usually caused by an injury that stresses and overstretches a joint. This includes a fall, twist or blow to the body. Mild sprains occur when a ligament is stretched but the joints remain stable and in place. In a moderate sprain the ligament is torn, causing the joint to become unstable and in a severe sprain, ligaments are completely torn or become separated from the bone causing the joint function to be disrupted. In such cases of a severe sprain, joints may have a popping feeling which can in turn cause swelling, bruising and inflammation. The joint that most commonly experiences these kinds of sprains in the ankle due to the large impact it may undergo, particularly during sport.

Strains Caused by stretching, twisting or pulling of a muscle or tendon, strains usually occur due to the overuse of muscles or tendons through prolonged or repetitive movement. A chronic strain is usually the result of not getting enough rest between times of intense training. In the case of chronic strain, the function of muscles will be lost or limited. Common types of strains are typically in the back or hamstring and are most common in athletes due to excessive jumping, twisting, kicking or running. Symptoms usually include pain, muscle spasms, muscle weakness, swelling, inflammation, and cramping.

Breaks A fracture, chip or complete break in the bone, often caused by accident, sports injury or weakness in the bones. Breaks must be managed by a healthcare provider to ensure that the bone heals properly, and the body’s functionality will not be lost. Minor breaks within the fingers or toes may not be as painful as you expect them to be, but common symptoms may include numbness, weakness, or poor circulation. Despite the lack of pain, even breaks in small areas must be managed by a professional.

While athletes are most susceptible to these injuries, all people may experience any of these pains throughout their lifetime. However, there are methods for preventing the likelihood of such injuries, especially before sport. These include; - Stretching and exercising daily to build strength in the bones - Wearing shoes that fit properly and are laced tightly in order to avoid rolling or tearing of the ankle - Having a well-balanced diet to build bone and muscle strength - Warming up before any sports activity - Wearing protective equipment that’s right for the sport such as shoulder pads, knee guards or helmets.

If you are suffering from the symptoms mentioned above, contact us on 9793 3119 or visit our website to learn about our team and find out more about our treatment options.

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