March 6, 2017

What is the difference between a strain and a sprain?

Foot and Ankle | Hand, Wrist and Elbow | Knee | Pediatric Orthopedics | Urgent Care

THIS POST IS PART OF THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO HAND, WRIST AND ELBOW INJURIES

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?

Contusions

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.

Physician examination

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.

Make an appointment with an OrthoIndy orthopedic pediatric specialist

Treatment

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.

Rehabilitation

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.

Schedule an appointment

Your well-being is important to us. Click the button below or call us to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our OrthoIndy Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.

Schedule an Appointment Call OrthoIndy 317.802.2000
Megan Golden

By Megan Golden

Megan Golden worked at OrthoIndy from 2012 to 2019, where she wrote a variety of content for our blog, magazines and inbound campaigns. Megan graduated from Ball State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and advertising and communications studies minor.

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