Minor trauma involving muscles, ligaments and/or tendons, cause the majority of sports injuries. The injuries include contusions (bruises), sprains and strains. Sprains and strains are uncommon in younger children because their growth plates are weaker than the muscles or tendons. This makes children more prone to fractures. So what is the difference between a strain and sprain?
A contusion (bruise) is an injury to the soft tissue often produced by a blunt force such as a kick or fall. The immediate result is pain, swelling and discoloration.
Difference between a strain and a sprain
A sprain is a twisting injury or tear to a ligament. Sprains most often affect the ankles, knees or wrists. A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon and is often caused by overuse, force or stretching.
To determine if your child has a sprain or strain your physician will ask you for a complete medical history, ask questions about the injury, how it occurred and conduct a physical examination. An X-ray or MRI can confirm the diagnosis.
Your child’s treatment plan for a sprain or strain will depend on: your child’s age, overall health and medical history, the extent of the injury, your child’s tolerance for medications, procedures or therapies, and your opinion.
Although there is a difference between a strain and a sprain treatment is usually R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression and elevation). Other treatment options include: medications, activity restrictions, splint or cast, crutches or wheelchair, physical therapy and, in extreme cases, surgery.
Contusions, sprains and strains usually heal quickly in children and adolescents. It is imperative that the adolescent follow the activity restrictions and rehabilitation programs to prevent re-injury.
Most sports injuries are due to traumatic falls or overuse of muscles and joints. Many sports injuries can be prevented with proper conditioning and training, wearing appropriate protective gear and using proper equipment.
Learn more about pediatric orthopedic care at OrthoIndy.