What are Sprains and Strains?

Sprains and Strains are the most common injuries and they almost share similar signs and symptoms, even though they occur in different parts of your body. Strains are injuries that happen due to overstretching or tearing of muscles or tendons, a fibrous cord of tissue that connects muscles to bones whereas sprains are injuries that happen due to overstretching or tearing of ligaments, the tough band of fibrous tissue that connects one bone to another in your joints.


The most common location for a Sprain is your ankle while Strains often occur in the lower back and in hamstring muscle, in the back of your thigh. Signs and symptoms will vary, depending on the severity of the injury.


  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Muscle spasms
  • Limited ability to move the affected joint


  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Limited ability to move the affected joint
  • At the time of injury, you may hear or feel a "pop" in your joint



Sprains occur when you overextend or tear a ligament while severely stressing a joint. Sprains often occur in the following parts of our body:

  • Ankle: Walking or exercising on an uneven surface
  • Knee: Pivoting during an athletic activity
  • Wrist: Landing on an outstretched hand during a fall
  • Thumb: Skiing or playing racquet sports, such as tennis


Not warming up before exercising, tired muscles and playing sport are the common causes that result in Strains. There are two types of Strains, acute and chronic. An Acute Strain occurs when a muscle becomes strained or pulled or may even tear when it stretches unusually far or abruptly. Acute Strains often occur in the following ways:

  • Slipping on ice
  • Running, jumping or throwing
  • Lifting a heavy object or lifting in an awkward position

Chronic strain results from prolonged, repetitive movement of a muscle. This may occur during sports, such as gymnastics, tennis, rowing, and golf.


Treating Sprains and Strains depend on the joint involved and the severity of the injury. In cases of a mild or moderate Sprain or Strain, apply ice to the area as soon as possible to minimize swelling.


For mild Sprains and Strains, your doctor will recommend basic self-care measures and over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).

Physical Therapy

It is important to get the right treatment after the injury as soon as possible to help rapid recovery. Physical Therapy is the best treatment for Sprains and Strains. Try to get a Physical Therapy asap if you lack the full function of the affected area, or if the pain and swelling don’t subside even after a couple of days. At our Optimum Rehab Physical Therapy offices in New York City our experienced therapists do everything they could to relieve you from the pain and help you continue with your healthy life


If you have a torn ligament or ruptured muscle, surgery may be an option.