Sprains & Strains

Elbow Pain and Wrist PainCommon injuries that people suffer are sprains and strains. There is a lot of confusion surrounding these injuries and they share similar signs and symptoms, however they involve different parts of your body. The definition of a sprain is to stretch or tear ligaments. A ligament is defined as fibrous tissue that connects two bones together within your joints. The most common areas injured from a sprain are your ankle or wrist. The symptoms of a sprain are as follows: pain, bruising, swelling, difficulty or inability to move the injured joint, instability of the joint.  A sprain usually occurs when there is a force that knocks a joint out of position causing the ligament to either stretch, partially tear or completely rupture. Some people report either feeling a ” popping” or” “tearing” when the injury occurs.

The definition of a strain is to stretch or tear muscle or tendon. A tendon is fibrous tissue that connects muscle to bone. The most common areas injured from a strain are the back and hamstring muscles. Often strain injuries can occur from twisting or pulling motions, or sports. These injuries can occur in two different ways. They can be an acute strain that happens with one movement when a muscle is overstretched or stressed. They can also be a chronic strain that is due to repetitive stress over time, such as an overuse injury. The symptoms of a strain are as follows: pain, swelling, muscle spasms and difficulty activating the muscle to move it.

There are 3 categories of sprain or strains: a Grade I strain or sprain is considered a mild injury that is characterized as overstretching or minor tearing of muscle or ligament. A Grade II strain or sprain is categorized as a moderate injury that is characterized as partially torn muscle or ligaments but the tissue is still intact. A Grade III sprain or strain is considered a severe injury that is characterized as a complete rupture or tear of the involved tissue. The first two grade levels can be treated conservatively, however if a grade III injury is suspected you should see your physician immediately as surgical intervention is a possibility.

The initial treatments of both sprains and strains usually involves the R.I.C.E protocol. This stands for resting the injured area, icing it, wearing a bandage or some type of compression device, and elevation. This technique is usually recommended for the first 24-48 hours following the injury.

In most cases our patients are referred to us by a primary care physician or Orthopedist; however, we do see patients directly as well. Once here, the Physical Therapist will evaluate the patient. This includes obtaining medical history, performing a thorough examination, administering specific tests, and taking measurements. Based on the data obtained, your SportsCare Physical Therapist will be able to determine an appropriate treatment plan.  A typical plan of care will consist of manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, neuromuscular reeducation and modalities to achieve pain reduction.

Your Sportscare Physical Therapist will perform hands on manual therapy consisting of joint mobilization, myofascial release, and soft tissue massage, based on their objective findings. Manual therapy techniques are used to help to modify pain and improve deficits in mobility and stability for a more effective and successful recovery.  An exercise program consisting of stretching, strengthening, and  functional training is usually included in your rehabilitation program as well. Other modalities may include dry needling, cold and hot packs, electrical stimulation, taping of the area and ultrasound to help decrease pain and inflammation and improve circulation to promote healing. Patient education is also an important rehabilitation tool. Patients are instructed in activity modification to prevent re-injury in the future. Patients are also instructed in home exercise programs to utilize outside of the rehab setting to obtain optimal benefits from physical therapy and to continue with once discharged.

Please contact your SportsCare Physical Therapy location to schedule an appointment.

We look forward to meeting you.