Sprains and Strains

Courtesy Courtesy Dr. Anant Joshi, DPM, DABPM, AACFAS


Many people often overlook sprains and strains simply because they can occur during routine actions and may not even hurt right away. Complications, including long-term bone damage or recurring pain spasms, can become permanent issues if you don’t receive the proper treatment. 


What are Sprains and Strains? 


People often consider sprains and strains as the same issue, but that’s not exactly correct. 

Sprains happen when ligaments that connect two bones in a joint are overstretched and, in some cases, tear. A strain is damage that occurs to the muscles or tendons that connect bone to muscle.


Causes of Sprains and Strains


Despite their differences, the causes of sprains and strains are quite similar. These injuries can be caused by: 


  • Racquet sports: Sports that involve constant foot movement with quick pivots and turns can lead to a sprain or strain, e.g., Tennis, Badminton, etc.
  • Awkward landings: When a person is falling, they may instinctively attempt to break the fall by quickly stepping forward. This motion can lead to twists, sprains or broken bones in the foot or ankle. 
  • Injuries from contact sports: Activities like basketball, soccer, and football can result in sudden impacts from other players. Unexpected contact or falls can result in injury. Many players who are hurt in these sports suffer from sprains or strains. 
  • Lifting heavy objects: People who carry or move heavy items as part of their daily activities are more likely to regularly sustain sprains and strains. Proper lifting techniques are critical to avoid injury.
  • Standing in awkward positions: Many office or factory employees spend several hours on their feet. Standing in unnatural positions, not having the proper footwear, or floor mats can put additional stress on the feet and ankles. 


Risk Factors 


Certain activities may put you at higher risk for sustaining sprains and strains. Some of those activities include: 


  • Being out of shape: A lack of physical health conditioning leaves the muscles and joints at a higher risk for injury.
  • Frequent exhaustion: Overuse of muscles or completely tiring yourself out can leave the body unable to cope with excess stress on the joints. 
  • Using improper equipment for daily activities: Improperly using equipment may put unnecessary strain on the body, causing injury. 


How to Prevent Sprains and Strains 


Accidents happen, but there are some ways that you can help yourself avoid the likeliness of sprains and strains during regular activity. A few prevention tips include: 


  • Avoid participating in sports when you already feel exhausted.
  • Maintain a balanced diet.
  • Always wear appropriate footwear, i.e., non-slip soles on basketball courts or boots that protect the toes and ankles on a job site.
  • Avoid intense physical activity when you feel pain in your muscles or joints. 

Sprain and Strains Signs and Symptoms


It’s important to know the early signs and symptoms of sprains and strains so that you’re more likely to get the care that you need. Common signs to look out for include:


  • Limited flexibility
  • Swelling
  • Painful joint mobility
  • Muscle weakness
  • Pain or tenderness


Complications of Sprains or Strains


If care is delayed or avoided, additional injuries or more severe symptoms may occur. Complications may include: 


  • Fractures: Fractures can be seen as bumps that appear suddenly or pain that radiates away from the affected area. 
  • Ruptured muscles: Occurs when you are unable to use or tighten the strained muscle. 
  • Cartilage injury: Occurs when a tearing sensation is followed by intense pain. 

Treatment Options

The “RICE” technique is recommended as a treatment for both minor sprains and strains.  


Rest: The patient should avoid using the affected joint to boost the healing process.

Ice: Wrap a bag of ice in cloth and place on the affected area for up to 20 minutes. Repeat for the first 24-48 hours following injury. 

Compression: The affected area should be wrapped in a bandage. Compression will reduce swelling. 

Elevation: The injured area should be elevated above the level of the heart. If this is not possible, raising the area parallel to the ground is sufficient.


In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair damaged muscles or ligaments.

Advanced Foot Care of NJ

1031 McBride Ave

Suite D-105

Woodland Park, NJ 07424

(973) 256-0002

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.