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When you are injured, it can be hard to know if you should seek medical attention right away or if you should try to treat yourself at home. Common injuries that people encounter are sprains and strains. The following guide walks you through some basics about sprains and strains.

What’s the Difference Between a Sprain and a Strain?

Sprain and strains are often used interchangeably. But a sprain occurs when the ligament that connects one bone to another bone is injured in some way and a strain occurs when a tendon or muscle is injured. Both happen very quickly and will be painful.

How Do Sprains and Strains Occur?

Sprains often occur when the tissues connecting bones are overstretched or torn in some way. Both are common in sports, and occur when an excessive force is applied quickly to a joint, muscle and/or tendon. Common ways this happens include sliding into a base with a leg or or knee at an awkward angle, or landing wrong from a jump or turning too quickly.

If You Have a Strain or Sprain?

Applying ice intermittently can help reduce inflammation in the first 1-2 days also. Many times this will help improve the pain and facilitate healing. If you notice an injured area that is significantly swollen, tender, and painful to move after an injury it is  best to have the area evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible to ensure that you don’t cause more damage to the area. An X-ray may be required to rule out an underlying fracture, and more serious strains and sprains may sometimes require surgery to repair injured tissue. A trained physician can help you determine which tests and treatments you might need for maximum recovery.

wrist sprain

Minor sprains and strains can often be treated with rest, elevation, and  compression (being sure not to wrap too tightly).

In the case of a sprain or strain, seek medical attention as soon as possible. The ER on Soncy is a fully equipped, free-standing emergency room open to the public 24/7.