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Sprains and strains are common injuries that share similar signs and symptoms, but involve different parts of your body.

A sprain is a stretching or tearing of ligaments — the tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect one bone to another in your joints. The most common location for a sprain is in your ankle.

A strain is a stretching or tearing of muscle or tendon. A tendon is a fibrous cord of tissue that connects muscles to bones. Strains often occur in the lower back and in the hamstring muscle in the back of your thigh.

Sprains and strains can also result from car accidents, sports injuries, and sudden movements.

Signs and symptoms will vary, depending on the severity of the injury.

Sprains

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Limited ability to move the affected joint
  • At the time of injury, you may hear or feel a "pop" in your joint

Strains

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Muscle spasms
  • Limited ability to move the affected muscle

Treatment

When treating a sprain, the doctor will first ice down the injured area to reduce swelling.  Once the joint can be manipulated, she will then go through a series of easy stretches and range of motion exercises.  The next step is to perform a chiropractic adjustment on the spine and the areas connecting it to the injured body part.  For example, a sprained foot may require adjustments to the foot, knee, hip, pelvis, and spinal cord.  This will ensure that your body is in the correct alignment so that the sprained ligament can heal properly.

The office visit is not all that is involved when you treat sprains using a chiropractor.  After making the adjustments, you will be given a list of home exercises that should be done between appointments.  The main emphasis is on core stability and balanced muscle strength.  Once the sprained ligament is past the point of acute injury, the exercises will be crucial to the rehabilitation of the joint and the surrounding muscles and tendons.

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