SPRAINS & STRAINS

Physical therapy treatments are commonly used in sprain and strain rehabilitation. The aproach has two goals; 1. Reduce the pain and swelling, or R.I.C.E. and 2. quick recovery.

First part deals with Rest meaning no physical activity. In the case of an ankle sprain or strain the doctor might require you not to put any weight on that foot. Ice - will stiffen the area so there will be less swelling. Ice should be used 4 to 8 times a day for no more than 20 minutes at a time to prevent the posibility frostbite. Compression will also help reducing swelling. There are many different elastic wraps, boots, and air casts to control swelling. Elevation also helps to reduce the swelling by placing the injured part higher than your heart.

Second part deals with rehabilitation. When the pain and swelling are under control your therapist will design a custom program to help you to regain the normal range of motion, strength and function. The length of the recovery varies due to theseverity of the injury, and may last severl weeks.

Most people think that words sprain and strain are synonyms, but that is not true. Sprains refers to the stretch or tear to a ligament, while strains refers to the stretch or tear to a muscle or tendon. Most people know what muscles are, but are confused about the tendons and ligaments. Tendons are structures that connect a muscle to the bone, ligaments sre tissues that connect bone to another bone. Best examples for ligaments are your hand and feet which contain many small bones. These bones are held together with ligaments. Every muscle in your body must have a tendon. muscle and tendon tear image

Tendon and muscle tears are usualy classified as mild (grade 1), moderate (grade 2), and severe (grade 3). The mild , and moderate will usually heal by itself given appropriate time for rest, and avoiding exercise that will put strain on the injured area. Grade 1 indicates stretching of of the fibrous tissue but no tear. Grade 2 indicates partial tear, and grade 3 a complete tear. The severe tear will most likely require surgical repair. Fig. 1 depicts a situation where there are two partial tissue tears, one in the gastrocnemius muscle and the other in the Achilles tendon.

ligament tear imageLigament tear is also clasified as mild, moderate, or severe. These small structures that connect bone to another bone play an important role in maintaining the shape of the assigned body part like hand or foot. Even without a tear, if the ligaments are put under strain for a prologed period of time the bones of the hand or the foot would lose their ability to maintain proper shape and function normally. Fig. 2 depicts an example of a complete tear to the medial ligament of the ankle joint. This type of injury will require surgical repair.