Sprain/Strain

A sprain is a stretch and/or tear of a ligament, the fibrous band of connective tissue that joins the end of one bone to another. Ligaments stabilize and support the body’s joints. A sprain is caused by direct or indirect trauma (a fall, a blow to the body, etc.) that knocks a joint out of position, and overstretches, and in severe cases, ruptures the supporting ligaments. Typically this injury occurs when an individual lands on an outstretched arm, slides into a base, jumps up and lands on the side of the foot, or runs on an uneven surface.
A strain is an injury of the muscle and/or tendon. Tendons are fibrous cords of tissue that attach muscles to bone. Chronic strains are the result of overuse (prolonged, repetitive movement) of muscles and tendons. Inadequate rest breaks during intensive training precipitates a strain. Acute strains are caused by a direct blow to the body, overstretching, or excessive muscle contraction. In most cases the mechanism of injury resulting in a sprain or a strain may be the same, it’s just a matter of which tissues are damaged in the injury. A wrist sprain is a common injury. There are many ligaments in the wrist that can be stretched or torn, resulting in a sprain. This occurs when the wrist is bent forcefully, such as falling onto an outstretched hand. Wrist strains can be common injuries as well, especially in racket sports and other activities that involve repetitive movement or overstretching of the wrist and forearm. Wrist sprains can range from mild to severe. They are graded, depending on the degree of injury to the ligaments.

  • Grade 1. These mild sprains occur when the ligaments are stretched, but not torn.
  • Grade 2. These moderate sprains occur when the ligaments are partially torn.Grade 2 sprains may involve some loss of function.
  • Grade 3. These severe sprains occur when the ligament is completely torn. These are significant injuries that require medical or surgical care. As the ligament tears away from the bone, it may also take a small chip of bone with it, called an avulsion fracture.