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Sprains & Strains

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    Sprains and Strains — Is There a Difference?

    To a non-medical person, a sprain and a strain are one and the same thing. Most of us use the two terms interchangeably. There are some key differences.

    A sprain results when a ligament tears. Ligaments are bands of connective tissue that connect bones.

    A strain on the other hand could be a simple stretch of a muscle or tendon that could in some cases also involve a tear.

    Sprains and strains could both result due to overuse of a particular joint or muscle or because of doing repetitive activities.

    Some common symptoms of strains and sprains are pain, swelling, inflammation, muscle weakness, and cramping.

    The ankles, knees, and wrists are the areas that are most vulnerable to sprains. While strains are most often seen in the lower back, neck, and the chest wall muscles.

    Diagnosing a Sprain and Strain

    Usually, a medical history followed by a physical examination is enough to diagnose a sprain or strain. But if the injury is severe it may warrant further investigation. This may be in the form of x-rays to rule out fractures or other advanced medical imaging to evaluate the extent of damage.

    Several accident injury doctors may also recommend an MRI if the injury is severe with persistent pain or radiculitis. An MRI helps them assess the problem in detail and make an accurate diagnosis.


    Many times, a sprain or strain may not cause much discomfort or uneasiness right at the onset. However, over time pain and swelling may develop and in some cases also cause bruising and inflammation.

    Prominent symptoms that people with sprains and strains report include:

    • Pain
    • Swelling
    • Inflammation
    • Bruising
    • Limited mobility

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    How is a Sprain or Strain Treated?

    In the case of an acute injury, initial treatment almost always consists of the RICE protocol. What is RICE?

    The RICE protocol stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

    Rest: The first and foremost thing to do is rest the area of injury. If the extremities are injured your accident injury doctor may recommend the use of braces or crutches so there is no weight or pressure applied to the injured area.

    Ice: While the sprained or strained area is being rested, medical doctors and chiropractors advise to apply ice cold packs on the injured muscle or tear. Short 20-minute sessions of cold application several times a day are recommended. Always ensure ice is not applied directly to the skin.

    Compression: Along with ice cold packs, medical doctors and chiropractors also advise the use of a compression bandage or trainer’s tape. Regular use of either of these prevents further swelling. Do not tie it too tight, though.

    Elevation: This is the last step in the RICE protocol. Elevating the affected area above the level of the heart helps reduce the swelling.

    For the first 24-48 hours, following the RICE protocol helps immensely.
    Severe strains and sprains may require surgical intervention, but it is best left to the accident injury treatment center to decide whether it is an acute injury and to evaluate the severity of the injury.

    In most cases a non-invasive treatment regimen can adequately treat the injury. Regular chiropractic sessions along with physical therapy have known to help patients immensely.

    Resting the injured areas, manipulation, supervised exercises with strength and stretching, greatly matters during treatment and recovery.

    How Does Chiropractic Care Help

    Chiropractors are highly experienced at manual manipulation techniques. They customize treatment regimens along with instructing and supervising specific exercises geared towards healing.

    Though most often chiropractors are associated with treatment of neck and back problems, they are also trained to treat and care for strains and sprains of the extremities.

    Chiropractic sessions involve gentle manipulation to ease the pain and allow the joint or muscle to heal properly. Regular chiropractic sessions at an accident injury treatment center ensures the healing is done properly and your everyday activities do not remain affected for a prolonged period of time.

    For outstanding chiropractic and accident injury treatment services in Miami or Coral Gables schedule an appointment for a chiropractic consultation with an accident injury doctor today by calling 305-928-2828.

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