Sprains and strains are perhaps the most common musculoskeletal injuries. They can range from a mild injury, from which you recover very quickly, to complete tears that require surgery. People often use the two terms interchangeably, but there IS a difference! A “sprain” is an injury to a ligament, whereas a “strain” is an injury to a muscle or tendon. (Recall that ligaments connect bone to bone, while tendons connect muscle to bone.)
Sprains and strains most commonly are caused either by an acute injury, such as twisting your ankle or knee, or more gradually by repetitive activities that put constant stress on the ligament or tendon, causing microscopic tears that progressively worsen over time.
In the case of mild strains and strains, symptoms are often an annoying pain or ache in the affected area. There may some pain during activity, but it usually doesn’t limit what you can do to a significant degree.
With more advanced or severe sprains, there is more constant pain, more severe pain, pain during activity, and often a sense of weakness. Some ligament injuries, like those affecting the ACL in the knee, can result in joint instability.
The first step is to get an accurate history and perform a physical exam. Next, we use diagnostic ultrasound to see if the damage in the ligament or tendon can be seen. For deep ligaments inside a joint, such as the ACL, an MRI is required.
Mild injuries are best treated with physical therapy, activity modification, and therapeutic exercise to help repair and strengthen the damaged tendon or ligament. Other soft tissue treatments, such as A.R.T. (Active Release Technique®) or Graston® treatment can be helpful.
More severe and more chronic injuries may require more aggressive treatment. At the New England Stem Cell Institute, we have a whole host of alternative treatment options depending on the nature and severity of the injury. These can include:
However, if the tendon or ligament is completely torn, then surgery may be needed; there is no injection treatment that will work.
At the New England Stem Cell Institute, we’re nationally recognized experts in the non-surgical treatment of sprains and strains. Call us today for an appointment or make an online request for an appointment.