Muscle strains and sprains are common complaints and can happen to the best of us. Since they occur quite frequently, it is important to understand how to respond to these conditions. If you participate in contact sports and strenuous physical activities, it is important to learn how to mitigate the pain. Better yet, find out how to prevent these injuries from occurring at all!
The Difference Between a Sprain and a Strain
Before we discuss treatment and prevention, let’s first distinguish between sprains and strains. A muscle strain occurs when you overstretch or tear a muscle after improper use. Any muscle can experience this, but it is most common in the lower back and hamstrings.
On the other hand, sprains occur when there is a tear or overstretching of a ligament. This is the tissue that supports two bones or more at a single joint. People often suffer from sprains after falling and landing on a foot or palm awkwardly.
Sprains and strains can cause pain, swelling, and even bruising in the affected area. You may also experience limited mobility.
Caring For Your Injury at Home
Sprains and strains cause pain and limit the movement of the affected area. When caring for these injuries at home, there are two goals to focus on. First, you need to reduce pain and swelling.
Mild to moderate sprains can benefit from the R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compress, and elevate) approach. Once you have found a comfortable area to rest, apply ice on the injury. Then, wrap the injured area with a compression sleeve or an elastic bandage to minimize swelling. Take note to also keep the injured part of the body at a higher elevation than the heart.
Second, you must work on speeding up the recovery and rehabilitation process without risking further injury. Once the swelling and pain subside, you can work on restoring normal function. You can start with gentle and gradual exercises to rebuild strength and flexibility. Avoid engaging in heavy physical activity when you still feel pain, as this makes the chances of re-injury more likely.
Seeking Professional Help
While at-home remedies may work in some instances, these may not be enough to address severe cases. If you notice that your pain has worsened, it’s best to seek a professional’s help to avoid further complications. If you can’t place weight on the affected area or continue to experience numbness, you may want to visit your doctor, as well.
Once there, your doctor will conduct a physical exam to assess the extent of your injury. They might also order an X-ray if they suspect a fracture in the affected area. After determining the extent and severity of your sprain or strain, your doctor will devise a treatment plan.
Mild and moderate injuries can take 3 to 8 weeks before full recovery. You may also benefit from physical or occupational therapy. Meanwhile, the recovery time for severe cases can take longer since it may require surgery or immobilization.
Tips to Preventing Sprains and Strains
Sprains and strains can be caused by training and technique errors, as well as overuse. Here are tips to keep in mind before you engage in strenuous physical activities:
- Wear shoes with good protection and support in the proper size.
- Do balance exercises.
- Ease into new fitness routines gradually.
- Warm up before you work out or engage in sports.
- Avoid engaging in physical activities when you are exhausted or in pain.
- Use protective equipment and gear when you play sports.
- Learn and perform ideal strengthening and conditioning for specific activities.
Strain and Sprain Treatment in West Orange, NJ
Do you have any concerns and questions about your injury? Hudson MD Group has a team of qualified practitioners ready to provide you with exceptional patient care.
If you want the best possible care for your strain or sprain, give us a call at (973) 705-4914. You can also send us a message to set up an appointment.
The sooner your injury heals, the sooner you can return to your daily activities. We look forward to guiding you through the entirety of your recovery!