Sprain vs Strain

Borderline difference between Sprain and Strain

3 years ago

Sprains and strains are two terms that are always used interchangeably but there is a wide difference between these two injuries. Dr. Amit Saini, Orthopaedic surgeon, Sapra Multispeciality Hospital, Hisar here will explain the difference between the sprain and strain, their causes and preventive measures.

Strain: Tendons are tissues that connect our muscles to bones and injury to this tissue is known as Strain. Strain can be of mild, moderate and severe based on tearing of tissue, pain, and swelling.

Sprain: Ligaments are the thick fibrous connective tissue that connects one bone to other bone and injury to the ligaments causes sprain in the body.


The Strain is caused when excessive pressure is put on the muscles due to which they get stretched or pulled away from the bone whereas Sprain is caused due to an injury to the ligament which makes the joint difficult to move in the right direction. 


Symptoms for sprains and strains are similar which include pain and swelling in the injured area, difficulty using or moving the injured area in a normal way, warmth, bruising or redness in the injured area.

Areas Affected:

In Sprain: most common is ankle joint, then knee, fingers, toes, and wrist.

In Strain: Lower Back, legs, Elbow. Elbow strain can be of two types: tennis elbow and Golfer’s elbow.


Both Sprains and Strains are treated in a similar way. Mild sprains and strains can be treated using home remedies and over-the-counter medications.

The main treatment for all sprains and strains is RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Rest: Stay away from any physical activities that would put any pressure on the affected area.
Ice: Apply ice to the affected area every 2 to 3 hours for about 20 minutes each time.
Compression: Reduce swelling by wrapping the affected area with a stretchy bandage.
Elevation: Raise the injured area if possible.

For pain, over-the-counter pain relievers can be helpful.

If pain persists even after doing RICE treatment, evaluation by a specialist doctor or Orthopedician is required then. An orthopaedician will diagnose the root cause of the problem and determine how much damage has been caused due to an injury. If the injury is severe, like a complete tear, he may recommend surgery.

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