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Sprains and strains are types of injuries that commonly affect our body's muscles, tendons, and ligaments. While they may have similar symptoms and causes, they affect different types of tissues.
A sprain is an injury that affects a ligament, which is the tissue that connects bones to each other in a joint. A sprain can occur when a ligament is stretched or torn due to a sudden twisting or impact. Common areas for sprains include the ankle, knee, and wrist.
On the other hand, a strain is an injury that affects a muscle or tendon, which is the tissue that connects muscles to bones. Strains can occur when a muscle or tendon is stretched or torn due to overuse or sudden force. Common areas for strains include the back, neck, and hamstring muscles.


The symptoms of sprains and strains can be similar, but they vary depending on the severity of the injury and the affected area of the body. Some common symptoms include:

Symptoms of a Sprain:
  • Pain around the affected joint.
  • Swelling and inflammation.
  • Bruising or discoloration.
  • Limited range of motion or difficulty moving the joint.
  • Feeling a "pop" or "tear" in the joint during the injury.

Symptoms of a Strain:
  • Pain or tenderness in the affected muscle or tendon.
  • Swelling or inflammation.
  • Muscle spasms or cramping.
  • Limited range of motion or difficulty moving the affected area.
  • Weakness or difficulty using the affected muscle.

In general, sprains tend to be more common in joints like the ankle, knee, and wrist, while strains are more common in muscles like the back, neck, and hamstring.


Both sprains and strains can also occur due to age-related changes in the body, such as decreased flexibility or weaker joints and muscles. There can be various causes of sprains, some causes include: 

Causes of Strains:
  • Twisting or bending a joint in an awkward or sudden way.
  • Falling and landing on an outstretched arm or leg.
  • Getting hit or tackled during sports or physical activity.
  • Overusing a joint, such as with repetitive motions in certain sports or activities.
Causes of Strains:
  • Overstretching or overusing a muscle.
  • Lifting heavy objects without using proper form.
  • Participating in sports or physical activity without warming up properly.
  • Slipping or tripping and trying to regain balance with a sudden movement.
  • Poor posture or ergonomics can put a strain on certain muscles or tendons.
In addition, certain factors can increase the risk of these injuries, such as having weak muscles or ligaments, being overweight, or participating in high-impact sports or activities. By taking precautions such as warming up before physical activity and using proper form when lifting heavy objects, you can help reduce your risk of sprains and strains.


Physical examination:
The physiotherapist examines the affected area to assess the extent of the injury, including checking for pain, swelling, and range of motion.

Medical history assessment:
The therapist will ask about the circumstances surrounding the injury, such as when it occurred and how it happened.

X-rays can be used to identify any bone fractures or other abnormalities in the affected area.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can provide detailed images of the soft tissues in the affected area, including muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Ultrasound imaging can be used to assess the extent of soft tissue damage and identify any tears or other abnormalities in the affected area.

In some cases, a minimally invasive procedure called arthroscopy may be used to visualize the inside of a joint and assess the extent of the injury.


Cryotherapy or Cold therapy:
Cold therapy, such as ice packs or cold compression, can help reduce swelling and inflammation in the affected area.

Thermotherapy or Heat therapy:
Heat therapy, such as warm compresses or heating pads, can help increase blood flow to the affected area, which can promote healing and reduce muscle spasms.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS):
TENS uses electrical currents to stimulate the nerves and reduce pain. It involves applying electrodes to the skin near the affected area and delivering low-level electrical impulses.

Ultrasound therapy:
Ultrasound therapy uses sound waves to deliver heat to the affected tissues, which can help reduce pain and inflammation and promote healing.

Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS):
EMS involves applying electrical currents to the affected muscles to stimulate muscle contractions. This can help reduce muscle spasms and improve blood flow to the area.

Interferential current therapy (IFC):
IFC involves delivering electrical currents to the affected area in a specific pattern to reduce pain and improve blood flow to the area.

Shockwave therapy:
This involves using high-energy sound waves to stimulate healing and reduce pain in the affected area. The sound waves are delivered through a handheld device that is placed on the skin near the injury site. Shockwave therapy is thought to work by stimulating blood flow and increasing the production of collagen, which can help promote healing.

Laser therapy:
This involves using a low-level laser to deliver light energy to the affected tissues. The laser energy is thought to stimulate the cells in the affected area, promoting healing and reducing pain and inflammation. Laser therapy is typically painless and can be used on both acute and chronic injuries.

Manual therapy:
This involves hands-on techniques, such as massage, joint mobilization, and stretching, to help reduce pain and improve the range of motion in the affected area.

Exercise therapy:
Exercise therapy is a common approach used in the treatment of sprains and strains. Specific exercises may be prescribed to help improve flexibility, strength, and range of motion in the affected area, which can help promote healing and reduce the risk of further injury. Here are some examples of exercises and techniques that may be used for sprains and strains:
  • Range-of-motion exercises: These exercises involve moving the affected joint through its full range of motion to help maintain flexibility and prevent stiffness. For example, if you have a sprained ankle, your physiotherapist may prescribe ankle circles or alphabet exercises to improve mobility.
  • Strengthening exercises: These exercises are designed to improve the strength of the muscles around the affected joint. For example, if you have a strained knee, your physiotherapist may prescribe exercises such as squats, lunges, or leg presses to strengthen the quadriceps and other leg muscles.
  • Balance and stability exercises: These exercises are designed to improve balance and stability, which can help reduce the risk of falls and further injury. For example, if you have a sprained ankle, your physiotherapist may prescribe exercises such as single-leg stands or balance board exercises to improve your balance.
  • Plyometric exercises: These exercises involve jumping and other high-intensity movements that can help improve power and explosiveness in the affected muscles. For example, if you have a strained hamstring, your physiotherapist may prescribe exercises such as jump squats or box jumps to help improve the strength and power of the hamstring muscles.
  • Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF): This technique involves using resistance and stretching to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the affected area. For example, your physiotherapist may use PNF techniques to help improve your range of motion in a sprained shoulder.
Kinesio taping:
This involves applying special tape to the affected area to provide support and stability, while still allowing for range of motion. It can also help reduce swelling and improve circulation.


The physiotherapist may provide advice on how to manage pain, protect the affected area, and prevent further injury. They may also provide guidance on how to safely return to activity or sports after the injury.
The specific physiotherapy techniques used will depend on the location and severity of the injury, as well as the individual needs and goals of the patient. A physiotherapist can help develop a customized treatment plan to optimize recovery and prevent re-injury.

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