If you have ever landed wrong on your ankle or twisted your wrist, you may have wondered whether you had a strain or strain. These are just two of the many common ways in which soft tissue injuries occur. At Spine & Orthopedic Specialists Tulsa, we believe in making patient education a priority. Understanding the implications of either a strain and a sprain can make a big difference both in your treatment and in your recovery.

Injuries Involving Muscles, Tendons, and Ligaments

Injuries to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments occur as the result of accidents or due to stress and strain. They may be acute, happening suddenly and with little warning, or they may be as the result of overuse which occurred over the course of time. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) advises these injuries generally fall into two classifications:

  • Sprains: Sprains involve injuries to the ligaments. These are tissues which connect one end of the bone to another, working to support and stabilize the joints. These types of injuries often occur in the knees, ankles, and wrists, and usually involve a twisting force. In mild cases, the ligaments suffer minor stretching. In more severe cases, the ligament may end up tearing completely.
  • Strains: Strains impact the muscles and tendons, which are fibrous cords attaching the muscles to the bone. These often occur when these tissues are stretched due to overuse, and generally occur in the legs, feet, and back. Like strains, in severe cases the muscle or tendon will tear, separating completely from the bone.

Treatment for strains and sprains usually involves the use of anti-inflammatory and pain medication. To reduce swelling, it is recommended to apply ice packs and to keep the injured area elevated. Most importantly, the patient needs to rest and avoid putting weight or stress on the site until it has had time to heal.

Diagnosing Strains and Sprains

MedlinePlus recommends using x-rays or tests such as an MRI or CAT scan to determine the exact location and the extent of your injury. Compression bandages may be used to help stabilize the site and alleviate additional swelling, and you may have to adjust your work or other activities to accommodate your limited movements. If testing indicates that a muscle, tendon, or ligament tear did occur, you will likely need surgery to help repair the damage.

Even seemingly minor soft tissue injuries can take up to six months to a year to heal completely and you may need to undergo physical therapy to rebuild muscle strength and flexibility. Not following your doctor’s instructions or not allowing yourself enough time to recuperate could end up causing additional damage to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, eventually resulting in permanent disabilities.

Contact Us Today for Help

At Spine & Orthopedic Specialists Tulsa, our doctors will guide you through your options in terms of diagnostic testing and treatment for your soft tissue injuries, while advising you on the actions you need to take to ensure a complete recovery. If you suspect a strain or a sprain has occurred, contact our office immediately to schedule an appointment in our Tulsa office.