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What Is It? A Strain or a Sprain?

By Donna Stark

It was supposed to be a great day. The weather was perfect, the conditions couldn't have been better, and everybody was ready to go at the time you designated. The hike you had planned for went off without a hitch and to top it off, there was little to no bickering between your kids on the way to the trails. Hard to imagine, right? So of course, something had to go wrong. I mean, the universe doesn't give us that much perfection without a price. And when you twisted your ankle on that last bit of trail, you knew it was time to pay.

Sprain or Strain?

By the time you got home, you noticed your ankle was sore and had some swelling, so you did what you knew to be right. You planted yourself on the sofa with some ice and you elevated that foot, figuring you just strained it a bit. However, when you went to your doctor the next day, you weren't diagnosed with a strain. You were diagnosed with a sprain instead! But aren't they the same thing? Well, they're a lot alike, but they most definitely are not the same thing. Let's learn the differences here.

The Differences Between the Two

Sprains and strains have several similarities with their symptoms, so similar in fact, that it is no surprise they are often confused with each other. Take a look at the symptoms they share.

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Limited range of motion
  • Decreased flexibility

As you can see, the two are nearly identical, but what sets them apart is that bruising may occur with a sprain while muscle spasms are a sign of a strain. Another difference between the two is that a sprain involves ligaments and a strain involves muscles or tendons.

How to Avoid Them

The very nature of accidents is that they come as a surprise and you can't always avoid them, but there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of incurring a strain or sprain. Here are some useful suggestions.

  • Improve your physical condition
  • Use proper form and the correct equipment when exercising
  • Warm up before physical activity
  • Watch your footing when hiking, walking, and running
  • Incorporate balance exercises into your fitness routine

As with any injury, you are going to need some time for healing to occur, but if you still feel pain or the swelling has not subsided after several days, you may need to get it checked out further.

Staying as Active as You Can

By following the suggestions above and being mindful with your movements during physical activity, you can reduce your risk of injury and continue to stay as active as want! And who knows? You may get lucky by having another perfect day come your way!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Lakewood, Colo.

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