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Strain or Sprain

The body is supported by various tissues that give us flexibility and mobility. When our body is injured, we use specific terms to indicate the type of injury involved; that being a sprain or strain.

A sprain is an injury such as a tear or overstretching of a ligament: a tissue which connects bones together in a joint.

A strain on the other hand involves an injury to a muscle or tendon: a fibrous cord of tissue that connects muscles to bones.

The symptoms of a sprain or a strain are very similar, which makes it easy to confuse the two; however, one of the main differences that can be seen is that a sprain can result in bruising around the affected joint, whereas a strain may result in muscle spasms.

Other common symptoms of these two conditions include swelling, pain around the affected area, limited flexibility or range of motion.

Mild strains and sprains are treated with PEACE & LOVE.

PEACE (Approach for immediately after the injury)

Protect: restrict movement to reduce antagonizing the injury

Elevate: elevating the limb promotes fluid flow out of tissues

Avoid Anti-Inflammatory Modalities: treatments such as ice should be minimized as stages of inflammation may help repair damaged soft tissues

Compress: external mechanical pressure helps limit internal bleeding and reduce swelling

Educate: better education on the condition and load management can help avoid overtreatment; unnecessary injections or surgery can lead to a dependent behavior

LOVE (Approach after the first few days)

Load: an active approach with movement and exercises when the body allows promotes repair, remodelling and builds tissue tolerance as your tendons, muscles or ligaments are healing

Optimism: psychological factors such as depression or fear can be barriers to recovery

Vascularisation: aerobic exercises can help increase blood flow to the injured areas

Exercise: exercises help restore mobility, strength, and range of motion after injury and help reduce the prevalence of recurrent injuries

Reference: Dubois, B., and Esculier, J.F. (2019) Soft-tissue injuries simply need PEACE and LOVE. British journal of Sports Medicine. 54 (2). Doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2019-101253


The post is not supposed to replace any medical advice. If you are experiencing any pain, please consult a therapist as soon as possible. You may contact us or make an appointment at 905-771-8882 or, we are more than happy to help!

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