Difference between a strain, sprain, or tear

October 19, 2017

2 min read

Most people don’t know what the difference is between a strain, sprain, or tear of a muscle. But as a provider these are very important delineations in how we approach the care of an injury. So what is the difference?

A sprain is a ligament injury. A ligament is fibrous connective tissue that connect bones to each other and stabilize them. Typically ligament injuries occur when a joints range of motion is pushed to an unnatural position. Sprain injuries can vary in severity, which will contribute to the time for recovery

A strain injury is a muscle or tendon injury. This is commonly caused when a muscle is overloaded and is over stretched. There are two types of strain injuries, acute strains and chronic strain injuries. Acute strains are instantaneous strain injuries and chronic strains are caused by repetitive motions over time that place stress on muscle or tendon. Strain injuries, like sprain injuries, can vary in severity, which will contribute to the time for recovery.

A tear injury is a muscle, tendon or ligament injury that results in the tearing of the fibrous tissue. These can be more serious than strain or sprain injuries. They can result in the need for a surgical repair in order to restore proper function.

The rehabilitation process is strongly driven by identifying the type of injury that has occurred. It is recommended that you seek a medical professional in order to identify that severity of the injury before beginning treatment.

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