Joints are important parts of our body; they not only form the connections between bones but also provide support and help us move freely. Any kind of disease or injury that results in damage to the joints can interfere with our movement and cause us a lot of pain. The most common type of joint pain is knee pain. This type of pain can be managed with medication, physical therapy, or knee sleeves.
Some conditions that cause painful joints are gout, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, strains, and sprains. In this article, we are going to focus on strains and sprains.
Strains and sprains are injuries that occur when a joint is twisted unnaturally. Intense physical activity results in the injury of the ligaments and the tendons at the joint; ligaments are the tissues that connect bones while tendons are the tissues that connect bones to muscles.
The good thing is that the pain caused by most strains and sprains subsides with time. The pain usually ranges from mildly irritating to extreme and may go on for a few weeks or a couple of months. Acute strains and sprains only require rest, massage and strapping. On the other hand, if there is serious swelling, this could indicate a more serious underlying issue and it would be best to seek professional help.
What Are The Causes?
Usually, sprains occur when a joint is twisted while bearing some weight. This causes the ligament to get stretched. Sprains often affect the ankles, knees, and wrists. The damage caused may either be mild or severe. In severe cases, the ligament may rupture resulting in tissue damage.
Strains are caused when too much force is applied to a muscle. Strains are usually as a result of overworking beyond your physical ability or repetitive use of the muscles. The damage caused by these injuries also ranges from mild to severe. Strains are also referred to as pulled muscles.
The Risk Factors
People who have a high risk of suffering from strains and sprains are those who:
- Have limited flexibility
- Have a current or prior injury
- Engage in strenuous activities that are beyond their ability
- Don’t warm up properly before engaging in extreme physical exercise
What Are The Symptoms?
It is possible for a minor sprain to happen without you noticing but most are noticeable when they occur. The main signs that indicate that a sprain has occurred include pain in the affected area, swelling and inflammation, limited mobility, and bruising. You might even hear a popping sound during the time of injury.
The main symptoms indicating that a strain has occurred include pain that is followed by cramping, swelling, stiffness, soreness of the muscle, and muscle spasms. As with strains, you may be aware of the exact moment that the spraining took place. It’s also possible that they may happen without you noticing and you only notice the symptoms later.
Diagnosing Sprains and Strains
The physician examines the affected area and asks questions to determine the type of injury and the extent of the damage.
Whenever necessary, an x-ray may be taken to see whether or not there are any broken or chipped bones. Occasionally, an MRI scan may be required if the injury needs further examination.
Treating Sprains and Strains
The treatment of strains and joints is often directed toward the affected area.
Most types of injuries do not require for you to be admitted to the hospital. Usually, the doctor sends you home with an at-home treatment and a care plan. You are expected to follow the rest, ice, compression, and elevation treatment to reduce the pain.
If the area is swollen, you are required to use anti-inflammatory medications or get a cortisone injection to reduce the swelling. You may also need additional medications and creams for pain control and to facilitate healing.
In the event of a severe injury that results in chronic pain, gradual rehabilitation physical therapy may be recommended. In rare cases, surgery may be required to fix damaged cartilage or ligaments. In other cases, you may be required to wear a cast depending on the doctor’s recommendations.
Other forms of treatment for strains and sprains include chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, and massage.
After the initial treatment, it is really important for you to have follow-up monitoring by your physician. During these follow-up visits, several tests are carried out to review the effects of the medications.
How Do I Prevent Strains and Sprains?
Both strains and sprains can really limit one’s physical movement until they heal completely. It’s important that you exercise caution when you engage in any form of physical activity.
Injuries can be prevented by using appropriate sports gear while you exercise and staying within your limits during the training. After your strain or sprain is healed, you should avoid further injuries by wearing a protective brace when you resume normal activity.