Sprains and strains are caused by the elongation of tissues such as muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joint capsules, beyond their normal physiological range of motion. This may result in complete tissue tear or to microtrauma within the tissue.
Signs and symptoms will vary depending on the degree of injury. These may include pain, swelling, bruising, limited range of motion or weight bearing, and/or hearing or feeling a “pop” at the affected joint.
Fatigue, lack of muscular coordination, poor equipment and environmental conditions are the most common risk factors associated with this type of injury.
Sport-specific exercizes, increasing joint proprioception[NW21] , stability training and overall physical conditioning can help mitigate the risk associated with this type of injury.
Treatment may vary depending on the nature and severity of injury. Photobiomodulation/laser therapy can help increase the rate of tissue repair, minimize the persistent effects of scar tissue accumulation, and maximize the potential for long-term beneficial outcomes. Chiropractic care and acupuncture may also be implemented to minimize barriers to recovery, such as surrounding tight and problematic musculature/ other tissues[NW22] .
For immediate self-care of a sprain, try the R.I.C.E. approach: rest, ice, compression, elevation.
People tend to heal well from this type of injury, but localized instability can persist many months afterwards. Maintenance care and rehabilitation protocols can help decrease the risk of re-injury and can also minimize the risk of barriers to recovery, such as limited range of motion at the surrounding joints, and altered gait.