Preventing Sprains and StrainsIN ORTHOPEDICS
An active lifestyle can keep you healthy and happy, but incorporating physical fitness can also have its dangers. Sprains and strains are among the most common soft-tissue injuries that athletes experience. But don’t let them get you down. Arm yourself with knowledge and you can prevent the pain of strains and sprains.
Telling the Difference
Sprains are injuries to ligaments, the connective tissues that join bone to bone. They involve the stretching or complete tearing of one or more ligaments and can be mild, moderate, or severe. Caused by direct or indirect trauma, sprains commonly harm joints. On the other hand, strains are the result of a twisted, pulled, or torn muscle and/or tendon. The fibrous cords that connect muscle to bone, tendons can be strained by overuse (chronic strain) or a direct blow (acute strain).
What are the signs and symptoms?
Sprains are characterized by pain, bruising, and inflammation. However, the extent of symptoms depends on the severity of the injury. Strains most commonly occur in the ankle, knee, and wrist. Pain, muscle spasm, and swelling can indicate minor muscle strain, which frequently occurs in the back or hamstring. In more severe strains, the tendon may be completely ruptured and can incapacitate a person.
How can I prevent them?
Everyone is susceptible to sprains and strains. Use the following tips from American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons to help reduce your risk of injury.
- Participate in a conditioning program to build muscle strength.
- Peform stretching exercises daily.
- Always wear properly fitting shoes.
- Nourish your muscles by eating a well-balanced diet.
- Warm up before any sports activity, including practice.
- Use or wear protective equipment appropriate for that sport.
| RICE Therapy
RICE therapy is a frequently prescribed treatment for sprains and strains. It includes the following components:
To rest your injury, reduce exercise and daily activities. If your physician recommends that no weight be placed on the injured area, crutches can help.
Apply an ice pack (cold pack, ice bag, or plastic bag filled with crushed ice and wrapped in a towel) to the injured area for 20 minutes at a time, four to eight times a day.
Compression bandages such as elastic wraps, special boots, air casts, and splints can reduce swelling. Your physician can help you decide which one to use.
To combat swelling, keep the injury elevated on a pillow above the level of the heart.
Sources: niams.nih.gov, aaos.org© 2013. True North Custom Media. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on sports medicine, visit the Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center website.