Strain or Sprain? Pt 2

Last week we talked about ankle sprains. (Read Part 1 HERE.) Now we move on to the other side of the fence—ankle strains. Just looking at the words, you wouldn’t think there’s much of a difference, but there most certainly is.


Ankle Strains

As a reminder, a sprain is an injury to the ligaments connecting our bones. A strain, on the other hand, is an injury involving the muscles and tendons. Similar to sprains, there are varying degrees of injury with strains. Sometimes, a strain could be a tiny stretch in the muscle due to overuse. Other times, a strain could be a complete tear in the muscle-tendon combination.


How Do Ankle Strains Happen?

Our muscles are made up of bundles of fibers that gradually form into tendons that connect to our bones. In order to move our bodies, the muscle fibers and tendon fibers will contract and lengthen. When we overstretch these muscles, we end up with a strain. 


How Bad Is My Ankle Strain?

The bad thing about strains is that they can happen just as easily from a one-time stressful event as they can from long periods of overuse. The other problem with strains is that the injury could occur solely in the muscle, solely in the tendon, or at the intersection of both. Only a foot and ankle provider can truly determine where your strain has occurred and how severe it is.


How Do I Treat an Ankle Strain?

The good thing about strains is that the general treatment for them is the same as a sprain. Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE) is the first step and may be combined with stability wraps, support boots, staying off the affected area, or in severe cases, surgery. 


So, no matter whether you have a sprain or a strain, start with RICE and then call your FAAWC provider to book an appointment. Chronic sprains or strains weaken our bodies over time, so even if the pain goes away on its own, you still want to make an appointment to discuss with your doctor the underlying causes and form a healthy plan to modify your activities. 

So forget Google-ing your pain away, whether it’s a sprain or strain, the FAAWC has the best answer.

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