If your ankle or wrist is hurting and swelling to an abnormal size, then you may wonder whether you have any soft tissue injuries. It is more likely that you have a mild sprain rather than a fracture, but you should seek initial treatment by visiting the WellCare Urgent Care Center. With a physical examination and medical images, a physician can see if there is an injured joint, torn ligaments, or if there are severe strains that require surgery. However, there is a difference between sprains and strains. A strain injury occurs when a band of soft tissue or muscles attached to a bone experiences injury. Alternatively, an ankle sprain occurs when the connective tissue that connects bones is torn. This is also commonly referred to as a torn ligament.
The most common cause of sprains or strains is from playing contact sports that require intense physical activity. Strains tend to occur in the leg’s hamstring muscle, but can also form as back strains in the lower back. On the other hand, mild, moderate, and severe sprains all occur in the wrists, knees, or ankles. Both types of injuries can include having tears in the tendons or muscles, leading to additional risk factors, muscle weakness, or discomfort. With a strain, you may experience a cramping sensation in the muscles that will radiate outside the injured area.
There are other reasons why you could suffer a strain or a sprain. Overextending the arms or landing in an awkward position can cause sprains and strains. Additionally, walking on an uneven surface, or tripping on the stairs can harm the soft tissue causing a mild strain. Walking on a slippery surface, lifting heavy objects, or playing sports can lead to overuse injuries. Some strains occur suddenly from one poorly executed movement, but repetitive motion can create acute soft tissue injuries if not combatted with proper conditioning and physical therapy.
The best treatment for most strains and sprains is by applying ice to the injured body part while elevating or resting the ankle or wrist. Keep the ice pack on the injury for 20 minutes each time, and you can repeat this process for several days. You may find relief from pain by wearing a compression garment or brace while the strain or sprain heals. It is possible to find these compression devices at local or online drugstores.
If you have sustained a strain or sprain then come into WellCare Urgent Care Center right away to get immediate medical attention. Book a same-day appointment online at both our Cascade and Leonard locations.
Is surgery required to fix a sprain?
Most of the time, a sprain can be treated with ice and rest. However, if the ligament is severely torn, you may need surgery to fix this injury.
How long will it take for my sprain to heal?
Most sprains are mid-grade or minor and will take 1-4 weeks to heal. However, more serious sprains can take up to 12 weeks to fully heal. Schedule an appointment to determine the severity of your sprain and receive a more accurate timeline.
Should I stretch my sprained ankle?
After a few days have passed and the worst of the pain has subsided, you can start gently stretching your sprained ankle by flexing it and moving it in circles a few times a day. Continue stretching after the ankle has healed to prevent reinjury.
How can I speed up recovery from a sprain or strain?
Sprains cause swelling so elevating the sprained area, uses compression and ice, and taking a break from sports/exercise will all help reduce that swelling and speed up recovery.
What is the difference between a sprain and a strain?
A sprain occurs when a ligament (the connecting tissue between 2 bones) is stretched or torn. Strains are a tear or twist in the muscle or tendon. Strains are caused by stretching or pulling a muscle and sprains are caused by injuries like a fall or blow to the body that stresses the joint and supporting ligaments.