(65) 64712744|info@boneclinic.com.sg

Ligament and Muscle Damage (Managing Sprains and Strains)

Although the terms sprain and strain are used loosely and have no precise clinical definition, a sprain generally refers to an injury to a ligament – one of the tough, fibrous cords within a joint that connects the bones together – and a strain refers to muscle injury.

Sprains and strains often occur together in or near a joint, since joints absorb the stress of movement and are vulnerable to be being twisted or wrenched.  The ankle and the knee are the most common sites of such injuries.  In mild cases, the force of the injury tears a few fibres of the ligament or muscle, causing mild to moderate pain and swelling, which usually subside within a few days.  A more violent injury may completely tear a ligament or muscle and may involve bone damage such as a dislocation or fracture.

With proper care, most mild or moderate sprains and strains heal completely without complication.

The ankles are among the most vulnerable elements of the body.  These complex hinges of bone, ligament, tendon and muscle support the entire body weight and may transmit a force of impact equal to three times your weight.  Thus, ankle injuries, usually the tearing or straining of a ligament, are the most common of all joint injuries. 

The great majority of sprains are inversion sprains.  This happens when the sole of the foot turns inward, injuring the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.  Eversion injuries occur when the foot turns outward, affecting ligaments on the inner side.  Some sprains are minor and can be successfully treated at home, but many need medical attention.  An ankle sprain can put a patient at risk for another because as the injury heals, it leaves the tendon weakened and less flexible and thus more susceptible to injury.  Many sports activities place participants at risk for sprains and strains.  These injuries also often occur in normal everyday activities such as a slip on wet floors, a fall on the wrist, or jamming a finger.  Repetitive activities may also cause a sprain or strain.

Causes and Risk Factors of Sprains and Strains

Sprains and strains occur as a result of an injury, when the joint is subjected to more physical force that it can withstand.  Athletes, dancers and those who perform manual labour commonly suffer such injuries. Previous sprains may so weaken the ligaments such that recurrence is possible with only minor pressure.  The risk of sprains and strains increases with obesity and poor muscular conditioning.

Symptoms of Sprains and Strains

The symptoms of a sprain are typically pain, swelling, and bruising of the affected joint.  Symptoms will vary with the intensity of the injury; more significant ligament tears (Grade III injuries) cause an inability to use the affected joint and may lead to joint instability.   Less serious injuries (Grade I injuries) may only cause pain with movement.

Common Area of Sprains and Strains

Finger Sprain – caused by a violent overstretching of one or more ligaments that hold the finger joints together. 

Wrist Sprain – violent overstretching of one or more ligaments in the wrist joint can cause this common injury.

Knee Sprain – cause by violent stretching of one or more ligaments in the knee.  Sprains involving two or more ligaments cause considerably more disability than single-ligament sprains.

Ankle Sprain – occurs following a sudden sideways or twisting movement of the foot.  An ankle sprain can occur during athletic events or during everyday activities.  All it takes is an awkward step or an uneven surface to cause an ankle sprain – that is why sprained ankles are among the most common orthopaedic injuries.  Orthopaedic doctors see patients for ankle sprains very often, and it is the most common foot and ankle injury.

Back Strain – commonly caused by muscle strains and lumbar sprains.  A low back muscle strain occurs when the muscle fibres are abnormally stretched or torn.  A lumbar sprain occurs when the ligaments – the tough bands of tissue that hold bones together – are torn from their attachments. Differentiating a strain from a sprain can be difficult, as both injuries will show similar symptoms.  Many doctors refer to both injuries as a category called “musculo-ligamentous injuries” of the lumbar spine.

Neck Strain – caused by injury to the muscles or tendons that attach to the vertebral column in the neck, to the skull and to the shoulder.

Groin Strain – caused by an injury to the muscles of the inner thigh.  The groin muscle, called the “adductor muscle” group, consists of six muscles that span the distance from the inner pelvis to the inner part of the femur (thigh bone).  These muscles pull the legs together, and also help with other movements of the hip joint.  The adductor muscles are important to many types of athletes including sprinters, swimmers, soccer players, and football players.

Hamstring (Thigh) Strain – often result from an overload of the muscles or trying to move the muscles too fast or from taking an impact at the back of the leg.

Treatment of Sprains and Strains

First aid measures for a sprain or strain can best be remembered by the acronym RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation:

Rest the injured area.  Try not to move or put pressure on the affected joint. A sling or splint may be recommended to immobilize the joint and allow damaged ligaments or muscles to heal.

Ice the affected area to reduce swelling.  After 24 hours, either ice or heat may be applied to reduce pain. 

Compress the joint by wrapping it in an Ace bandage to help reduce swelling and pain.

Elevate the joint to reduce swelling.

Over-the-counter pain relievers or stronger analgesics may be prescribed, depending on the severity of pain.  After the pain has subsided, a rehabilitation program may be implemented with the help of a physical therapist to help the joint regain strength and mobility.  In severe cases, surgery may be required to repair torn ligaments or muscles.

CURE YOUR ANKLE LIGAMENT INJURY TODAY. CALL +65 6471 2744 For Appointment or SMS to 92357641

Muscle Strain

Muscle strain or muscle pull or even a muscle tear implies damage to a muscle or its attaching tendons. You can put undue pressure on muscles during the course of normal daily activities, with sudden, quick heavy lifting, during sports, or while performing work tasks.

Muscle damage can be in the form of tearing (part or all) of the muscle fibers and the tendons attached to the muscle. The tearing of the muscle can also damage small blood vessels, causing local bleeding (bruising) and pain (caused by irritation of the nerve endings in the area).

Muscle Strain Symptoms

  • Swelling, bruising or redness, or open cuts as a consequence of the injury
  • Pain at rest
  • Pain when the specific muscle or the joint in relation to that muscle is used
  • Weakness of the muscle or tendons (Asprain, in contrast, is an injury to a joint and its ligaments.)
  • Inability to use the muscle at all

When to Seek Medical Care

If you have a significant muscle injury (or if the home care methods bring no relief in 24 hours), call your doctor.

If you hear a “popping” sound with the injury, cannot walk, or there is significant swelling, pain, fever, or open cuts, you should be examined in a hospital’s emergency department.

Exams and Tests

The doctor will take a medical history and perform a physical exam. On exam, it is important to establish whether the muscle is partially or completely torn (which can involve much longer healing, possible surgery, and a more complicated recovery).

X-rays or laboratory tests are often not necessary, unless there was a history of trauma or evidence of infection.

Self-Care at Home

The amount of swelling or local bleeding into the muscle (from torn blood vessels) can best be managed early by applying ice packs and maintaining the strained muscle in a stretched position. Heat can be applied when the swelling has lessened. However, the early application of heat can increase swelling and pain.

Note: Ice or heat should not be applied to bare skin. Always use a protective covering such as a towel between the ice or heat and the skin.

  • Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents such as aspirin and ibuprofen to reduce the pain and to improve your ability to move around.
  • Protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation (known as the PRICE formula) can help the affected muscle. Here’s how: First, remove all constrictive clothing, including jewelry, in the area of muscle strain.
    • Protect the strained muscle from further injury.
    • Rest the strained muscle. Avoid the activities that caused the strain and other activities that are painful.
    • Ice the muscle area (20 minutes every hour while awake). Ice is a very effective anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving agent. Small ice packs, such as packages of frozen vegetables or water frozen in foam coffee cups, applied to the area may help decrease inflammation.
    • Compression can be a gently applied with an Ace or other elastic bandage, which can provide both support and decrease swelling. Do not wrap tightly.
    • Elevate the injured area to decrease swelling. Prop up a strained leg muscle while sitting, for example.
  • Activities that increase muscle pain or work the affected body part are not recommended until the pain has significantly gone away.

Medical Treatment

Treatment is similar to the treatment at home. The doctor, however, also can determine the extent of muscle and tendon injury and if crutches or a brace is necessary for healing. The doctor can also determine if you need to restrict your activity, take days off work, and if rehabilitation exercises are required to help you recover.

Prevention

  • Avoid injury by daily stretching.
  • Stretch every time before you exercise.
  • Establish a warm-up routine prior to engaging in strenuous exercise.
  • Start an exercise program in consultation with our doctor.

To schedule for an appointment, call us at +65 6471 2744 / Email: info@boneclinic.com.sg