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Muscle Sprains and Strains

Muscle Sprains and Strains

Description Of The Injury: A sprain is an injury to the ligament that connects bone to bone, while a strain is an overstretch or tear that occurs to a muscle or tendon - tissue that connects muscle to bone. A leg sprain most commonly occurs at the ankle, while leg strains commonly occur to the calf, or quadriceps muscles. Both sprains and strains are categorized by severity. Grade I - minor overstretch or tear; Grade II - moderate overstretch or tear; Grade III - complete rupture.

Injury Symptoms: Sprains and strains share the following symptoms: immediate pain, swelling, loss of functional ability and pain that intensifies when flexing and extending the nearest joint. A popping sensation during the injury may further indicate a sprain.

Additional Information

Home Treatments:

Most strains and sprains can be conventionally treated at home using the rest, ice, compression and elevation principle. After the injury has occurred, the injured area should be rested at an elevation higher than the level of the chest. This will help reduce the pooling of the blood and swelling. To reduce inflammation, compress the area with elastic bandage and administer ice 20 minutes at a time, 4-8 times per day for the first 3 days.

Professional Medical Treatments:

More severe strains and sprains may benefit from immediate cortisone injections to reduce inflammation. Ultrasound therapy may also be used. Surgery may be needed to grade III strains and sprains that require reattachment of the ligament, muscle or tendon.

Physical Therapy and Exercises:

Recovery via physical therapy will depend on the location of the strain or sprain. Ankle sprains will largely involve ankle pump exercises, dorsi flexion and plantar flexion stretches and recovering the range of motion. Strains to the quadriceps or calf areas will involve exercises specific to those area. This may include supine quad stretches and calf raises.

Exercise Techniques to Prevent Injury:

Prevention of leg strains and sprains involves maintaining good leg strength and appropriately stretching before and after an exercise session. To maintain strength, leg curls, leg presses, squats, deadlifts and calf raises should be performed progressively with weights. Standard stretches such as wall slides, standing quad stretch, standing calf raises, forward lunges and step ups should be used to get the ligaments, tendons and muscles flexible enough.