Common Sprains and Strains

Patients of all ages come to our physical therapy clinic because of pain due to strains and sprains. Our experienced physical therapists proudly offer drug-free relief using safe, effective, customizable, evidence-based techniques. Call us if you’d like to put your pain behind you and get back to an active lifestyle!

Understanding strain vs. sprain

Strains and sprains are soft tissue injuries that can lead to debilitating pain. Strictly speaking, a strain occurs in muscle or tendon tissue whereas a sprain occurs in ligamentous tissue. These injuries occur due to sudden or cumulative stress, which causes tearing and inflammation in muscle or ligament fibers. This may happen during an acute incident, such as a sports injury, car accident, lifting injury, or slip and fall. In other cases, particularly with muscle strains, the injury can develop gradually over time.

Our physical therapy team commonly treats sprains and strains in the following areas:

  • Rotator cuff muscles.
  • Biceps muscle and tendon.
  • Quadriceps muscle and tendon.
  • Patellar tendon.
  • Knee ligament.
  • Hamstring muscle and tendon.
  • Achilles tendon.
  • Ankle ligament.

Risk factors for muscle strains and ligament sprains

Injuries don’t occur in a vacuum. What we mean by this is that no matter what the initial mechanism of injury is, there is almost always a combination of underlying factors contributing to the injury in the first place. This is one of the main benefits of consulting with a physical therapist for your muscle strain or ligament sprain. Instead of simply managing your pain, we help you identify and address the contributing causes, so you can avoid reinjury.

Our physical therapists frequently identify these common risk factors:

  • Inadequate warmup.
  • Overtraining.
  • Muscle length/strength imbalances (for example, mobility restrictions and inflexibility).
  • Poor body mechanics.
  • Environmental factors such as slippery or uneven surfaces and poor equipment.

Signs and symptoms of strains and sprains

Signs and symptoms of a strain or sprain will vary in intensity and onset, but generally include:

  • Pain, usually described as dull or achy.
  • Soreness, stiffness and tenderness over the affected tissue.
  • Discoloration or bruising.
  • Decreased range of motion.
  • Swelling.
  • Weakness.

If it’s an acute sprain or strain, most of these symptoms will come on suddenly. However, if an acute sprain or strain isn’t properly addressed with physical therapy, it may progress into a chronic, recurring issue!

How a physical therapist can help you heal from a sprain or strain

In the immediate phase following a strain or sprain, you may be advised to follow the RICE protocol — rest, ice, compression and elevation. This may suffice for treatment of mild sprains and strains. But recurring, severe, and/or chronic soft tissue injuries require more involved care.

Physical therapy is considered an effective treatment for sprains and strains of all types. Some of the most common techniques we may implement for your sprain or strain recovery include:

Corrective exercises:

Corrective exercises: These are custom-prescribed depending on your stage of injury (acute, subacute or chronic) with various parameters to achieve specific goals, including tissue healing, improved circulation, swelling reduction, pain relief, increased range of motion, and restrengthening.

Functional mobility training:

A physical therapist has a keen eye for human movement and will assess mechanics, ergonomics and sports-specific skills to identify problem areas and help you improve performance.

Modalities such as electrical stimulation and therapeutic ultrasound:

These noninvasively reduce spasms, pain, swelling and inflammation.

Are you in pain from a strain or a sprain? Our physical therapy team can help

Call our physical therapy clinic to book an appointment with a physical therapist near you!

Your Next Steps…

  1. Request An Appointment

  2. Receive A Custom Treatment Plan

  3. Work Hard and Progress In Your Recovery

  4. Recover & Enjoy Life Pain-Free!