If you’ve been injured or are experiencing pain, you may wonder whether you have a strain or a sprain. Many patients injure themselves and develop strains and sprains through physical activity and accidents such as sports, car accidents, working out, workplace injuries, and even working around the house. If you’re not sure what type of injury you may have, or what the difference is between the two and how chiropractic can help, then this blog is for you.
Sprains & Strains
A strain is an acute or chronic soft tissue injury caused by overstretching or tearing a muscle, tendon, or both, whereas a sprain is the equivalent injury of a ligament. Both injuries can cause pain, swelling, and limited movement in the area they occur. If you are experiencing redness, swelling, pain to the touch or limited movement in an area that has recently been injured or felt sore, you probably have a strain or sprain.
⦁Strains often result from trauma, overexertion, and repetitive movements–like lifting a heavy item, exercising too hard and tearing a muscle, or injury from repetitive movements.
⦁Sprains are usually the results of falling or twisting the wrong way and forcing a joint into an awkward position–like landing on an ankle incorrectly while playing sports.
Strains and sprains may seem like minor injuries compared to breaking a bone, but they still require rehabilitation and care–and can result in worsening pain or serious injury if not properly taken care of.
These injuries require more than a day or two of rest to recover from and should be taken seriously. Most people with a sprain or strain related injury need anywhere from six to twelve weeks to fully recover. For those with more severe injuries, such as a painful tear in a frequently used body part like the leg or ankle, the recovery period can be much longer.
How Do They Happen?
Strains and sprains can occur from a variety of physical activities, car accidents, falls or incorrect landings, and even damaging stretches. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the most common sports injuries include sprains, strains, knee injuries, swollen muscles, fractures, shin splints, and dislocations. One common neck injury, whiplash, is notorious for causing neck strains and sprains.
Some of the top causes of strains and sprains include:
- Car Accidents
- Sports Injuries
- Improper Movement/Exercise
- Falling or twisting the wrong way
- Overexertion & Repetitive Motions
Trauma from a car accident can cause both sprains and strains to the driver and passengers, which may worsen over time without proper treatment. One of the most common injuries that patients seek chiropractic care for after being involved in a car accident is muscle pain and soreness. Along with muscle soreness, strains and sprains are two common injuries that people experience during a crash that tends to respond well to chiropractic treatment.
Athletes and active individuals are much more prone to injuries like sprains and strains due to the time spent moving and engaging in actions that have the potential to cause injury. Everyone has that friend, colleague, or relative that received a sprained ankle or strained muscle from overexerting themselves or taking a hit or bad fall during play. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, roughly 2 million acute ankle sprain injuries occur in the U.S. each year.
General movement and work can also cause these injuries. Even if you don’t participate in sports and haven’t been involved in a car accident, there are still movements and actions to be careful of, in order to avoid a strain or sprain. Repetitive motions from a physical job or hobby can also result in strains. Even falling or twisting the wrong way after losing you balance could result in a strain or sprain. Accidents do happen, and sometimes these types of injuries are unavoidable.
How Can Chiropractic Help?
Since chiropractic care focuses on aligning and adjusting the spine, joints, ligaments, muscles, and other aspects of the body with the nervous system to relive pain and improve function, it can also help eliminate pain and issues stemming from strains and sprains without unnecessary surgery or medications.
Chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy, rehabilitation exercises, targeted pain relief technologies, targeted massage, and stretching are all ways in which chiropractic care can help to naturally treat strains and sprains so you recover faster and perform at peak level. Chiropractic care promotes healing of the injured area and allows you to recover even stronger to reduce future injuries.
The following are commonplace treatments that chiropractors use to help patients with strains and strains relive pain and recover:
- Soft Tissue Massage
- Targeted Stretches & Exercise
- Cold & Heat Therapy
- Electronic Muscle Stimulation
- Chiropractic Adjustments
- Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation
Gentle chiropractic manipulation can help relieve pain and ensure strain and sprain injuries heal properly, reducing the time it takes for you to get back to your day to day routine and enjoy an active lifestyle. In fact, in one recent study of people with chronic ankle instability from repeated sprains, chiropractic manipulations improved symptoms and functionality.
Although care should always be taken to avoid injury resulting in a strain or sprain, we know that sometimes life happens and accidents are unavoidable. If you think you may have a strain or sprain, contact us for a free consultation. The expert chiropractors and specialists at RxWellness Health & Spine have extensive experience in working with patients suffering from sprains and strains.
Call us at 703-904- 9666, or submit an appointment request online to visit one of our three convenient northern Virginia clinics–located in Herndon, Vienna, & Arlington.