Sprain vs Strain

Sprain vs Strain

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

How would one resolve sprains and strains? Learn from our article below.

Sprains and strains are injuries to the soft tissues of our musculoskeletal system, and they are both very common. Soft tissues are the tissues that connect, support, or surround other structures and organs of the body, not being bone. Soft tissue includes tendons, ligaments, fascia, skin, fibrous tissues, fat, synovial membranes, muscles, nerves and blood vessels. Muscle and tendons are made from bundles of fibres and contains specialised cells that monitor the degree of contraction and stretch. With general use, muscles and tendons use soft contractions to resist overstretching. However, sudden twists or jolts can apply greater force than the issue can tolerate. The fibres can be overstretched and tear leading to bleeding from broken blood vessels which results in swelling. 

So is a sprain the same as a strain? Often these two words are used interchangeably but they are actually two quite different types of injuries: 


Joints are held together and supported by tough bands of connective tissue called ligaments. Ligaments are tissues that connect bones at a joint. The entire joint is enclosed inside a membrane called a joint capsule which is filled with lubricating synovial fluid. This fluid helps to nourish the joint and provide extra cushioning against any impact received. A sprain is a joint injury that typically involves overstretching which causes small tears in the ligaments and joint capsule. Falling, twisting, or getting hit can all cause a sprain with common sites for sprains including the thumb, ankle and wrist. Symptoms of sprains include pain, swelling, bruising, and being unable to move the involved joint. You might even feel or hear a pop or tear when the injury happens. 


A strain is a stretched or torn muscle or tendon. Tendons are the tissues that connect the muscles to the bones, allowing the controlled movement of the joints. Twisting or pulling of the tissues can cause a strain in these injuries can happen suddenly or develop over a period of time. Many people get strains playing sports with common sites for strains being the back, calf, groin and hamstring. Symptoms of strains include pain, muscle spasms, swelling, and trouble moving the muscle. 

Both sprain and strain injuries can come on suddenly or may get worse gradually. A sudden injury is one that is related to a specific incident and is often called an acute soft tissue injury. This means it has occurred within the previous 24 to 72 hours. An injury that gets worse overtime is often referred to as a chronic soft tissue injury. These are commonly caused by continued overuse or increases in normal tissue stress. Soft tissue injuries can take between two and 12 weeks to heal. The healing time is dependent on the specific injury incurred, the treatment received initially as well as the ongoing care, plus the age, injury history and general health of the particular person. It is important to have both sprains and strains assessed by a health care practitioner to determine an appropriate management plan for fast and effective healing. 

Dr. Steve Hodal is committed to providing high-quality, individualized chiropractic care in a comfortable and relaxed environment. He is dedicated to providing evidence-based treatments that are tailored to each patient’s individual needs, allowing them to achieve optimal health and wellbeing. Contact us to know more about this disorder or Book Online.