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853 Jefferson Ave
Washington, PA 15301
(724) 225-7410
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Have you ever mentioned you rolled your ankle playing basketball or on the last step into the basement only to have a group debate on whether it is a strain or a sprain?  The real answer?—it could be both!

A SPRAIN is the result of the stretching or tearing of a Ligament, a fibrous band of connective tissue, which connects a Bone to a Bone.   This structure is typically holding the two bones together at a joint.

A STRAIN is the result of the stretching or tearing of a Tendon, also a fibrous band of connective tissue, which connects Bone to Muscle.  This structure is typically used in movement.

So, what causes sprains and strains?                                                                                                                                                                       SPRAINS are commonly caused by excessive force being applied to a joint, such as sliding into a raised base in softball/baseball, planting a foot and rotating the knee or ankle too far in another direction, or stepping off a stair with the foot turned inward.                                                                                                                                          STRAINS, on the other hand, are more commonly caused by overuse as might be seen with an extreme work-out or sports drills.        

Which do I have, and how can I treat/prevent it?                                                                                                                                            SPRAINS are commonly characterized by instability of the joint, bruising and swelling, and of course pain.                                                                                                        STRAINS are also commonly accompanied by pain and swelling, along with muscle spasms and muscle weakness due to the bone-to-muscle attachment.                                                                                                                                                                                                    Treatment for sprains and strains varies depending on the severity, although the RICE therapy blog is a good start to recovery most of the time.  In short, this involves: Resting, Icing for 20 minutes 4-8 times per day, Compression (using ACE-style wraps), and Elevation above the heart.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Prevention tips for sprains and strains include: warming-up before a work-out, start slow and work into a more rigorous routine, wear properly fitting shoes, use a track or treadmill for running vs. running on uneven surfaces such as grass, and taking it easy if you feel over-worked.

Enjoy your work-out!!

As always, it is important to contact a physician in an injury such as this to rule out any torn tendons or ligaments and possible breaks or fractures. 

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