Sprains and Strains

Sprains and strains are common orthopedic complaints, however there is a distinct difference between the two.  A sprain refers to the tearing or stretching of the fibers of a ligament. A ligament connects one bone to another. A strain, also known as a pulled muscle, is the tearing of muscle fibers either in a tendon – where the muscle connects to the bone – or within the muscle belly itself. Both injuries often cause immediate pain, swelling, and decreased range of motion in the affected area.

Sprains and strains often occur while playing sports or exercising. Our Saturday Sports Injury Care at Orthopedic Associates of Lancaster was designed to treat conditions such as sprains and strains that happen when you least except them. Sprains and strains can typically be evaluated and treated on-site and in most cases do not require surgical treatment.


  • Pain, swelling, or bruising to the affected area
  • Decreased range of motion of the affected area
  • Pain with weight-bearing or walking
  • Deformity at the area depending on the severity of the injury


  • Muscle weakness.
  • Proprioception, or balance issues
  • Twisting or rolling an ankle falling onto an outstretched hand can result in a sprain
  • A forceful contraction of a muscle such as suddenly sprinting or kicking a ball can result in a strain

Risk Factors

  • Participating in sports such as soccer, volleyball, basketball, or ballet dancing
  • Sudden increase in length or intensity of exercise
  • Exercising or maneuvering on slippery or uneven ground
  • Wearing improper shoes that do not provide adequate support and stability
  • Previous sprain and strains may increase your risk of repeat injuries and general instability
  • Poor physical condition
  • Excess weight


  • Physical examination to evaluate the condition
  • X-ray to rule out bone fractures
  • MRI or CT scan may be used to determine more details about the condition of the bones of the joint

Treatment Options

  • RICE therapy: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain relief
  • Physical therapy
  • Immobilization using a boot or brace
  • Use of crutches, walker, or a cane to support weightbearing