If you play sports, you’re at a higher risk of suffering from sprains or strains, which are types of orthopedic injuries. However, those who are in poor physical condition or are overweight are also at a heightened risk. These common orthopedic conditions are often confused as being the same injury, when in fact, there are key differences. Your orthopedic doctor can help you understand the differences between sprains and strains .


The main difference between a strain and a sprain is the type of structure they affect within the body. A strain refers to an injury of a tendon or a muscle. Tendons are the strong bands of tissue that attach muscles to bone. In contrast, a sprain affects a ligament. Ligaments are bands of tissue that connect bones to other bones. They provide stability and support for the joints within your body. When a ligament is sprained, it means that it has been stretched or torn.


Your orthopedic doctor will evaluate all of your symptoms to aid in the diagnosis of a strain or a sprain. Strains and sprains share some of the same symptoms, such as inflammation, swelling, and pain in the area. With a strain, you might also feel muscle spasms, weakness, and cramping. If you have a moderate strain, you’ll lose some function of the muscle. If you have a severe strain, the injury may be debilitating. On the other hand, if you’ve suffered a sprain , you’ll likely feel a pop in the affected joint. Upon injury, a severe sprain results in significant pain and total loss of function. A moderate sprain results in joint instability.


Your orthopedic doctor may recommend similar treatments for a strain and a sprain, such as rest, ice, compression, and elevation – commonly known as the RICE method. Physical rehabilitation is also generally recommended. Severe injuries may require orthopedic surgery.

Whether you have a sprain, strain, or another type of orthopedic injury, the team at Able Orthopedic & Sports Medicine is here to help. We provide comprehensive orthopedic services to get you on the road to recovery. Call (718) 690-9520 to schedule an appointment with an orthopedic doctor at our clinic in Forest Hills.

Call Us Text Us