Many people need clarification when differentiating between sprains and strains because they are often used as synonyms to describe damage to the soft tissues in and around the joints. However, a key distinction between the two can help distinguish between a joint sprain and strain.
Dr. Sandeep Singh, one of the leading orthopedic surgeons in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha, states,’ There is a difference between a sprain and strain, and hence they require to be treated differently. People with these injuries should consult an orthopedic surgeon if they do not recover from it after resting for a couple of days.
He begins by explaining the sprain injury, which occurs when a ligament, a type of fibrous connective tissue that binds bones together, is over-extended or ripped due to a fall, a joint being twisted, or a blow.
There are three types of sprains, each with a different degree of severity: mild, moderate, and severe. When ligaments are stretched and the joint remains firm, it is considered a mild sprain, while in moderate sprain, the joint is unstable as the ligaments are partially torn. Finally, a severe sprain happens when the ligaments are completely torn or have detached from the bone.
A person with a sprain injury will complain of tenderness, swelling, discoloration of the skin, and diminished flexibility in the injured area. Also, they may have heard a pop sound in the joint. Depending upon the treatment and the patient’s overall health, a sprain injury may take some days or weeks.
A tear is when the ligament, tendon, or muscle strands are torn. A tear is a more serious injury than a sprain. The same activities that result in a sprain can create a tear. Major tendon and muscle tears usually take many months to recover, but minor tears may need a few weeks.
Minor tears heal with rest and physical therapy, yet sometimes surgery is necessary. Signs and symptoms of a tear might include: sudden and intense pain, a popping sound when the injury occurs, a loose joint, inability to stand on the affected area, immediate bruising, and the injured joint being inflexible.
The primary difference is that a tear means a torn ligament, while a sprain signifies a stretch in the ligament. Ankle sprains are the most common form of sprain, and knee and ankle ligament tears are the most common types of ligament damage.
The most effective remedies to treat sprains are rest, applying ice packs, binding the area with an elastic bandage, and keeping it elevated. Following these steps can result in a fast recovery and enable you to use the area of injury again within two to four weeks.
It is advisable to consult an orthopedic surgeon to assess the extent of ligament injury. In the case of stretched or partially severed ligaments or tendons, the treatment could be a combination of rest, physical therapy and medication. Ligament tears take time to heal as they do not contain blood vessels and have less blood supply. Therefore, they depend on the minimum amount of nutrients in and around the joint area to heal.
However, surgery may be the only option if the ligament tear is severe or the area doesn’t heal after a significant time. As in the case of a completely torn ligament, there will be long-lasting pain and discomfort accompanied by an unstable joint. In addition, there is no connection between the tissue and the blood supply in the injured area, so no healing occurs. Therefore, surgery is necessary to repair the joint and reduce the possibility of further injury.
For example, if the ACL is ruptured, then reconstruction is required. First, the doctor will need to remove the broken ligament and replace it with a donor ligament. Only after surgery can the patient commence the rehabilitation process, which can take nearly six months or more to heal.
Dr Sandeep Singh is a distinguished orthopedic doctor based in Bhubaneswar, an expert in elective and trauma surgeries related to joint replacement and sports injuries. Dr Sandeep Singh has a long track record of 11 years in his field and is proficient in fracture management, hamstring repair, complex reconstruction, and noncompartmental knee replacements.
He has ample experience and is the go-to surgeon for many patients from all over Odisha. He is an expert in resolving complex and revision surgery cases. In addition, he provides comprehensive, top-notch orthopedic care to those suffering from sports injuries and lower limb disorders.
Furthermore, Dr Sandeep utilizes state-of-the-art surgical techniques such as robotic and arthroscopic (keyhole) surgery to help his patients recuperate as quickly as possible with minimal trauma and hardship. He also remains updated on the latest technology by participating in various workshops related to knee and hip arthroplasty.