Sprains, Strains and Pain, Oh My!

Injury - sprains & strainsMany people fail when trying to explain the difference between sprains and strains. These are both often used interchangeably to describe over-stretching or tearing of soft tissues in and around your joints. There is a key difference, however, and knowing what that is can help you differentiate between joint sprains and strains. Sprains and strains are common injuries that share similar signs and symptoms, but involve different connections between muscles and bones.


A sprain is an extending or tearing of ligaments — the intense groups of fibrous tissue that connects two bones together in your joints. The most widely recognized area for a sprain is in your ankle.


A strain is an extending or tearing of muscle or tendon. A tendon is the fibrous cord of tissue that connects muscles to bones. Strains often occur in areas such as the lower back.


Diagnosing a sprain or strain begins by excluding other causes for your symptoms. After a brief physical exam, the doctor may request imaging such as an X-ray or an MRI.

RICE Treatment

Initial treatment for both sprains and strains includes the REST treatment- rest, ice, compression and elevation. Mild sprains and strains can be successfully treated at home. Severe sprains and strains sometimes require surgery to repair torn ligaments, muscles or tendons. Consulting with your physician will help you to determine whether surgical intervention is necessary.

Contact Questcare Urgent Care

If you’re still having issues with the injured joint after you have tried the REST treatment, you may need to visit your doctor. Lasting pain or difficulty moving the joint could be a signal of a more serious problem. The medical team at Questcare Urgent Care has the experience and expertise to diagnose and treat a number of pain-causing conditions. If you need more information, you can reach us by telephone at 214-368-4822.