Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Sprains, Strains, & Soft Tissue Injuries

Sprains, strains, and soft tissue injuries are common injuries affecting muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These injuries can occur due to overuse, trauma, or sudden movements and can range from mild to severe.


  • Sprain: An injury to a ligament, the tissue that connects bones at a joint. Sprains commonly occur in the ankles, knees, and wrists.
  • Strain: An injury to a muscle or tendon, the tissue that connects muscles to bones. Strains are often seen in the back, hamstrings, and arms.
  • Soft Tissue Injury: Any injury that affects muscles, tendons, or ligaments, including contusions (bruises), tendinitis, and bursitis.

Common Symptoms

  • Pain: Immediate or delayed pain at the site of the injury.
  • Swelling: Swelling and inflammation around the injured area.
  • Bruising: Discoloration of the skin due to bleeding under the skin.
  • Limited Mobility: Difficulty moving the affected joint or muscle.
  • Weakness: Weakness in the affected muscle or joint.
  • Tenderness: Sensitivity to touch in the injured area.


  • Trauma: Sudden impact or force, such as a fall or collision.
  • Overuse: Repeated stress on a muscle, tendon, or ligament over time.
  • Improper Technique: Using incorrect form during physical activities.
  • Lack of Warm-Up: Insufficient warm-up before engaging in physical activity.
  • Sudden Movements: Rapid or awkward movements that strain the body.


Medical History and Physical Examination: A healthcare provider will assess symptoms, review medical history, and perform a physical exam.

Imaging Tests:

  • X-rays: To rule out fractures or bone injuries.
  • MRI or Ultrasound: To visualize soft tissues and detect tears or strains.


  • Proper Warm-Up: Ensure a thorough warm-up before engaging in physical activity to prepare the muscles and joints.
  • Strength and Flexibility Training: Regular exercises to strengthen and stretch muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
  • Proper Technique: Using correct techniques in sports and exercises to minimize strain.
  • Balanced Training: Avoiding overuse by incorporating rest days and varying activities.


Immediate Care

  • RICE Method:
  • Rest: Avoid activities that may aggravate the injury.
  • Ice: Apply ice packs to the affected area for 15-20 minutes every 1-2 hours for the first 48 hours to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Compression: Use an elastic bandage to compress the area and minimize swelling.
  • Elevation: Keep the injured area elevated above heart level to reduce swelling.


  • Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen or NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen) to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.

Physical Therapy

  • Gentle Stretching and Strengthening Exercises: To restore range of motion and strengthen the muscle or ligament as healing progresses.
  • Heat Therapy: Applying heat after the initial 48 hours can help relax muscles and improve blood flow to the area.

Avoiding Aggravating Activities

  • Protecting the Injury: Avoid activities that put additional stress on the injured area until it has healed.


  • Healing Time: Typically, mild to moderate sprains and strains heal within a few weeks. Severe injuries may take longer, up to several weeks or even months.
  • Gradual Return to Activity: Gradually reintroduce activities and exercises to avoid re-injury.


What is the difference between a sprain and a strain?
A sprain involves injury to a ligament, while a strain involves injury to a muscle or tendon.

Can I continue to exercise with a sprain or strain?
Resting the injured area is crucial for proper healing. Gradually reintroduce activities as pain and swelling decrease, and avoid activities that may stress the injured area until fully healed.

How can I tell if my injury is severe and needs medical attention?
Seek medical attention if you experience severe pain, significant swelling, inability to move the affected area, or if the injury does not improve with self-care measures.

Are there long-term effects of sprains and strains?
If not properly treated, sprains and strains can lead to chronic pain, instability, and an increased risk of recurrent injuries.

How can I prevent sprains and strains?
Proper warm-up, strength and flexibility training, using correct techniques, and avoiding overuse can help prevent sprains and strains.

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