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Posted on 12-30-2015

As many weekend warriors and elite athletes can attest, sprain and strain commonly happen when one's body goes through movement beyond its capability.  


A sprain is any trauma or damage to a ligament. Ligaments are responsible for securing a joint by attaching from one bone to another, usually helping to stabilize the joint through its motion. Ligaments are strong tissues that don’t have much stretch to them. Sprains occur when a ligament is stretched beyond its normal limit. Injuries to a ligament can scale from a small stretch of the fibers to something more severe, like a complete tear of the ligament. The most common areas for sprains to occur are the ankle, knee, elbow and wrist.


A strain is any injury to a muscle, whether it’s the belly of the muscle or the tendon. Muscle tendons are responsible for securing a muscle to a bone, usually overlapping a joint in order to control joint motion. Unlike ligaments, tendons are more elastic in nature as they are constantly in motion, stretching and shortening a muscle. However, much like ligaments, strains can scale from a small irritating stretch of the muscle fibers to a more severe injury such as a tear of the muscle or tendon. Strains can occur from repetitive stress or trauma to the tissues, which don’t allow it to heal properly. Depending on its severity, strains can limit the strength and movement of the muscles. The most common areas for strains to occur are the calf, thigh, groin or shoulder.

How to handle them?

Sprains and strains may present as the same injury. Both include an inflammatory process that differs depending on the severity of the injury.   This will include pain, swelling and sometimes bruising. Both sprains and strains are measured on a graded severity scale (I-III):

                Grade I – stretching or minor tearing of a muscle or ligament (MILD)

                Grade II – partial tear of the muscle or ligament, but the structure is still intact (MODERATE)

                Grade III – full tear of the muscle or ligament (SEVERE)

For years, it has been a common suggestion to follow RICE: REST to allow healing, ICE to control blood flow, COMPRESSION, and ELEVATION to reduce any swelling. However, at any of these stages, it’s very important to get these injuries checked by a health professional. Chiropractors are well equipped with the tools to help restore joint motion after a sprain or strain and help promote proper healing. It’s also important to be educated about how to strengthen your areas of complaint to prevent a similar injury from happening again. If you’d like more information or would like to see how your Mississauga Chiropractors can help you with your overall health, please call our office at 905-821-4951. 

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