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Sprains and Strains

Summary

A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament. Ligaments are tissues that connect bones at a joint. Falling, twisting, or getting hit can all cause a sprain. Ankle and wrist sprains are common. Symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising, and being unable to move your joint. You might feel a pop or tear when the injury happens.

A strain is a stretched or torn muscle or tendon. Tendons are tissues that connect muscle to bone. Twisting or pulling these tissues can cause a strain. Strains can happen suddenly or develop over time. Back and hamstring muscle strains are common. Many people get strains playing sports. Symptoms include pain, muscle spasms, swelling, and trouble moving the muscle.

At first, treatment of both sprains and strains usually involves resting the injured area, icing it, wearing a bandage or device that compresses the area, and medicines. Later treatment might include exercise and physical therapy.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Start Here

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)
  • (American College of Sports Medicine) - PDF

Diagnosis and Tests

  • (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in
  • (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in

Prevention and Risk Factors

  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)

Treatments and Therapies

  • (American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society) Also in
  • (Nemours Foundation)

Living With

Specifics

  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • (American Society for Surgery of the Hand)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
  • (American Society for Surgery of the Hand) Also in

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Find an Expert

  • From the National Institutes of Health Also in

Children

  • (American Academy of Pediatrics) Also in
  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in
  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in

Teenagers

  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in
  • (Nemours Foundation)

Patient Handouts

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surrogate mother