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STRAINS/SPRAINS

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 common location for a sprain is in your ankle. Severe sprains sometimes require surgery to repair torn ligaments.

Signs and symptoms will vary, depending on the severity of the injury, and may include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Limited ability to move the affected joint
  • Hearing or feeling a “pop” in your joint at the time of injury

Sprains often occur in the following circumstances:

  • Ankle — Walking or exercising on an uneven surface, landing awkwardly from a jump
  • Knee — Pivoting during an athletic activity
  • Wrist — Landing on an outstretched hand during a fall
  • Thumb — Skiing injury or overextension when playing racquet sports, such as tennis

A muscle strain, or pulled muscle, occurs when your muscle is overstretched or torn. This usually occurs as a result of fatigue, overuse, or improper use of a muscle. Strains can happen in any muscle, but they’re most common in your lower back, neck, shoulder, and hamstring, which is the muscle behind your thigh. Strains can cause pain and may limit movement within the affected muscle group. Mild to moderate strains can be successfully treated at home with ice, heat, and anti-inflammatory medications. Severe strains or tears may require medical treatment.

Signs and symptoms will vary, depending on the severity of the injury, and may include:

  • sudden onset of pain
  • soreness
  • limited range of movement
  • bruising or discoloration
  • swelling
  • a “knotted-up” feeling
  • muscle spasms
  • stiffness
  • weakness

In a mild strain, a torn muscle may feel slightly stiff, but still flexible enough for use. A severe muscle strain is when the muscle is severely torn.  The symptoms of mild to moderate muscle strains usually go away within a few weeks. More severe strains may take months to heal.

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