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Sprains, Strains and Tears Sprains, Strains and Tears
Sprains, strains, ans tears are probably the most common injury seen today. Most people think of these as injuries that only athletes experience,... Sprains, Strains and Tears

By Staff Writer: Ed Barillas

Sprains, strains, ans tears are probably the most common injury seen today.  Most people think of these as injuries that only athletes experience, but this is not the case.  More and more people in the workplace, in the home and everyday people just exercising are going to the emergency rooms with these injuries.   You don’t have to be running or jogging to receive a sprain, strain or tear.  The most common sprain is the sprained ankle, other common sprains include the thumb, and wrist sprains.  It is estimated that approximately 25,000 people sprain their ankle everyday.
A sprain occurs when one of your joints moves further in one direction than it should, stretching or causing a tear in one of the ligaments that connects our bones and joints.
A strain occurs when a muscle is either stretched too far and torn or forced to shorten too quickly  The “tear” occurs in the muscle or tendon.  The tendon is the tissue that connects the muscle to the bone.
A tear is either a sprain or a strain depending on where the tear is.  Many people prefer to use the term “tear” instead of sprain or strain, usually for vanity reasons.  But whether you have a sprain or a strain it is a tear.
Sprains are most common in the ankle and knee as well as the thumb and wrist.  However, they can occur in other joints depending on the activity and type of impact to the joint.  Sprains are rated on a scale of 1-3.
Grade 1 is when there’s only a stretching or very mild tear in the ligament, but the joint remains stable.
Grade 2 there is a more serious tear and there is frequently some instability in the joint.
Grade 3 is  the most serious, the ligament is completely torn or ruptured.  The bone is not broken.
Strains can occur in any muscle that has been  stretched beyond it’s capability or when it is forced to shorten too quickly.  The most common muscle strains are hamstring strains, these are the muscles that run between the hip and knee joints.  The gatrocnemius and solens strains are a fancy way of saying the muscles in the calf between the knee and the ankle.  Quadricep strains are strains of the muscles in the front of the thigh and lumbar strains occur in the muscles of the lower back.
The most effective and most common treatment for sprains and strains is known as “R-I-C-E”.
R- rest, it is important to rest the joint or muscle affected.  This means no weight bearing and no lifting and if you should have a thumb or wrist sprain playing video games, and typing should be avoided.
I- ice, put an ice pack over the area injured for 10 minutes then remove for 20-30 minutes, then put another ice pack back on for 10 minutes.   Rotate the ice on and ice off for the first 24-48 hours after injury.
C- compression, wrapping the area injured in an ace wrap or using a compression sleeve also helps decrease the swelling.  They can also provide support for the injured joint or muscle misleading you into thinking you can use your injured joint or muscle, it is not a good idea.
E- elevation, it’s important to rest your injured area on pillows or something that can effectively support it above the level of your heart.  That is not sitting in a chair with you leg up on a stool.  In order for elevation to be effective it must be above the level of your heart.
Treatment with R-I-C-E is most effective in the first 24-48 hours after injury.  Some people may also need to take something for pain depending on the severity of the injury,  a grade 3 sprain can feel like the bone is broken even though it’s not.    In most cases over the counter pain medications like ibuprofen can be helpful both for it’s pain relieving  capabilities but also it’s anti inflammatory capabilities.  In cases of severe tears some may require surgery to repair the damage.
Prevention is always better than treatment and though accidents will happen there are things you can do to help you minimize sprains and strains.  One of the most important things you can do is regular stretching and strengthening whether for sport, fitness or work, even play.  Any Doctor will tell you the best brace you can use is your own muscle.