Sprains, Strains and Ankle Pains! What You Need to Know and When to See a Physiotherapist.

sprains and strains Aug15th 2019

There you are, walking through the park on a bright summer day when suddenly you find a hole with your foot. Before you know it, you are in pain, collapsed in a crumpled heap, hoping no one saw your graceful fall. What do you do? How do you know whether it is an injury that will go away on its own, and when should you call a physiotherapist? The best way to find out is to contact SOS Physiotherapy today to find out if your sprain, strain, or ankle pain warrants more attention.

What’s the Difference Between a Sprain and a Strain?

When it comes to ankles, this is one of the most commonly asked questions of a physiotherapist. It’s actually much easier to differentiate between the two than you might think. But before we can talk about the difference between a sprain and a strain, you need to know the difference between a tendon and a ligament. Tendons are strong, fibrous tissue that connects bone to muscle. Ligaments are similar types of strong connective tissues that bond one bone to another bone.

A sprain happens when the ligaments of a joint (your ankle, knee, wrist, elbow, etc.) are twisted so violently that these strong connective tissues are stretched or slightly torn. Typically, with a sprain, the joint remains in place. A sprain can be mild resulting in only a few minutes or hours of pain, or it can be more severe, requiring physiotherapy or even surgery.

A strain happens when the tendons that connect a muscle to bone are stretched or slightly torn. There are two types of strains—acute and chronic. Acute strains happen as a result of an injury. You may slip on ice and fell, straining a muscle in your leg while you try to balance yourself. Chronic strains happen when you perform the same motion over and over. Gymnasts, tennis players, golfers, and other athletes are likely to develop strains when they are not properly conditioned, do not stretch, or use improper equipment.

How Can Physiotherapy Help a Sprain or Strain?

Interestingly enough, working with a physiotherapist has more benefits than simply regaining your strength after an injury. These medical professionals are highly trained movement experts who not only can help you recover from a sprain or strain, they can help you prevent injuries in the future. A physiotherapist also offers drug-free pain relief that keeps you mobile and strengthens your body.

Physiotherapy for a sprain or strain typically follows three steps. In the acute phase of the injury, pain relief is one of the primary goals. Severe sprains or strains are often painful. If surgery is warranted to reconnect a ligament or tendon or repair a muscle, pain management will often make the difference between a patient who works hard in therapy and one who does not. A physiotherapist will offer several pain-relieving techniques—ice, heat, ultrasound, TENS, massage, and stretching. They will also teach patients how to administer these treatments on their own.

In the second phase of physiotherapy, your physiotherapist focuses on healing the injury. Typically, the first two phases go hand in hand as your physiotherapist works to help you regain motion in the joint where the sprain happened or the muscle that is strained.

Once the injury has healed, a physiotherapist will move on to preventing future injury. Once you have sprained a joint, you are more likely to do it again without proper therapy. The same goes for strains. Strengthening muscles around an injured area can often keep you from experiencing future problems.

For more information or to find out more about physiotherapist’s effects on sprains and strains, call our Elmira & Belmont offices today.


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