Sprains and Strains

The term “sprain” refers to injuries to muscles whereas “strain” refers to injuries to tendons. The muscle-tendon unit is the functioning unit for movement production. Injury to either muscles or tendons causes focal disability and pain. These injuries are broadly classified into three grades, depending on severity.

Grade one is an overstretch of the tissue (muscle or tendon) without tearing. Grade one injuries will normally resolve on their own within a few weeks. Grade two injuries are more severe and involve partial tearing of the tissue. With grade two injuries bruising, severe pain and disability are normal. Grade three injuries occur when there is a complete tear of the tissue. Grade three injuries will have significant bruising and disability but surprisingly these injuries are normally less painful.

Regardless of the grade of the strain/sprain, these injuries have a definitive onset and are considered acute traumatic injuries even if there was no specific incident causing the injury. 

Depending on the tissue and degree of injury, surgery can be necessary but most often physiotherapy is the best initial course of action. After a period of recovery, progressive activity helps the body rebuild and remodel tissue to restore function.

Common Muscles that become strained

  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Pectorals
  • Hip flexor (Iliospoas)
  • Groin (Adductor Longus/Brevis/Magnus, Pectineus)
  • Hamstring (Biceps Femoris, Semitendiosis, and Semimembranosis)
  • Calf (Gastrocnemius, Soleus)
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