Ouch! You’ve twisted your ankle or knee, but you don’t know how to tell the difference between a sprain or strain. There is a difference, and we will talk about both, so if you have an accident, you can understand what your doctor means.
The Mayo Clinic says a sprain is a stretching or tearing of ligaments — the tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect two bones together in your joints. The most usual place to get a sprain is the ankle.
A strain is a stretching or tearing of muscle or tendon. A tendon is a fibrous cord of tissue that connects muscles to bones. Strains often occur in the lower back and the hamstring muscle in the back of your thigh.
Initial treatment of both sprains and strains includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Mild sprains and strains can be successfully treated at home. Put a bunch of pillows under your leg, ankle or behind your back. Severe sprains and strains sometimes require surgery to repair torn ligaments, muscles or tendons.
If you have either a sprain or strain, it still requires a doctor’s attention to make sure that it isn’t so severe that further medical treatment is needed. You shouldn’t wait to go to the doctor. A small strain in the lower back can lead to slipped discs, which are extremely painful. Make sure and take care of your body.