Sprains and Strains

Soft Tissue
NASPE/NCAT Sport Injury Resource

Sprain
(Injury to ligaments). Ligaments connect bone to bone and often help to stabilize a joint, such as a knee, finger, or ankle joint. When a ligament is stressed beyond its normal capacity the ligament may “stretch” or tear, termed a ligament sprain.
Strain
(Injury to muscles and/or tendons). Tendons connect muscle to bone. When a muscle contracts, it pulls the tendon which then moves the bone. During activity muscles can sometimes be over-stretched or contract too violently causing injury to the muscle or tendon. This type of injury is called a muscle strain.
Injury to muscles and ligaments occur in varying degrees:
Mild
(1st degree):
Minimal “stretching” or tearing of the tissue. The athlete will complain of mild soreness over the area. Slight swelling may develop. Strength and range of motion of the injured area is slightly affected.
Moderate
(2nd degree):
Often results when the tissue is partially torn. Pain, swelling, some discoloration, and loss of strength and range of motion will be present.
Severe
(3rd degree):
Damage is most severe, usually resulting in extensive tearing or rupture of the tissue. Significant pain, swelling, and/or discoloration may be present along with major decrease in strength and joint movement - range of motion.


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