Posts Tagged ‘sprained ankle’

Is it a Sprain? Or is it a Strain?

sprain vs strainA common question we field from patients with injuries is, “Is it a sprain? Or is it a strain?” While they both result in similar pain and symptoms, sprains and strains are actually different injuries that involve completely different parts of the body.

A sprain is an injury that affects the ligaments, which are a type of connective tissue that connects bones to other bones. When a sprain occurs, the ligaments are either stretched or torn and depending on the severity of the stretching and tearing, can be very painful. Sprains most commonly affect the ankles, in particular the lateral (outside) portion of the ankle, which can occur from a variety of activities.

Strains, on the other hand, affect the tendons, the fibrous connective tissue that connects muscles to bones, or the muscles themselves. Strains involve the stretching and/or tearing of these tendons or muscles.

Symptoms of Sprains and Strains

The hallmark symptoms associated with sprains and strains are similar

  • Pain
  • Redness and/or bruising
  • Swelling and inflammation at the site of the injury
  • Stiffness in the affected area

Causes of Sprains and Strains

Sprains typically happen suddenly and can occur in a variety of ways. When a person falls or twists in a way that puts their body in an unusual position or is hit with an impact that does the same, sprains can occur. On the contrary, strains can occur over time as a result of prolonged, repetitive movements, or occur suddenly.

One of the most common causes of sprains and strains is participation in athletic activities.

Treatment of Sprains and Strains

Most sprains and strains can typically be resolved with the RICE method – rest, ice, compression and elevation. Depending on the severity of the injury, future treatment and recovery efforts may involve a combination of physical therapy and various exercise techniques.

Seek help from a sports medicine physician if you experience any of the following:

  • Cannot put weight on the affected area without feeling significant pain
  • Cannot move affected joint
  • Have numbness around the injured area
  • Have significant swelling and/or changes in skin color

With proper care, most sprains and strains will heal without long-term side effects.

Prevention of Sprains and Strains

While there is no true way to prevent all sprain and strain injuries, proper stretching and strengthening regimens can help keep your body strong and more resistant to many injuries, including sprains and strains.

The highly-trained physicians and surgeons at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center treat a wide variety of orthopaedic, spine and sports medicine conditions, including sprains and strains from the foot and ankle to hand and elbow.

About Dr. Olufade

Dr. Oluseun OlufadeOluseun Olufade MD, is board certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Interventional Pain Medicine. He completed fellowship training in both Interventional Pain Medicine and Sports Medicine. During his fellowship training, he was a team physician for Philadelphia Union, a major league soccer (MLS) team, Widener University Football team and Interboro High School Football team.

Dr. Olufade employs a comprehensive approach in the treatment of sports related injuries and spinal disorders by integrating physical therapy, orthotic prescription and minimally invasive procedures. He specializes also in concussion, tendinopathies and platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections. He performs procedures such as fluoroscopic-guided spine injections and ultrasound guided peripheral joint injections. Dr. Olufade individualizes his plan with a focus on functional restoration.

Dr. Olufade has held many leadership roles including Chief Resident, Vice-President of Resident Physician Council of AAPM&R, President of his medical school class and Editor of the PM&R Newsletter. He has authored multiple book chapters and presented at national conferences.

Find Out How to Prevent, Diagnose & Treat Ankle Sprains

Ankle Sprain

Did you know that more than 9 million Americans suffer an ankle sprain each year? Well, if you are one of these individuals or want to learn more about how to prevent an ankle sprain join us on Tuesday, May 27 for a live online chat on “Preventing, Diagnosing & Treating Ankle Sprains” with Emory Othopaedics, Sports & Spine physician Oluseun Olufade, MD. He will be available to answer questions related to a sprained ankle such as:

  • Can I prevent an ankle sprain?
  • What are the symptoms of an ankle sprain?
  • How do you diagnose an ankle sprain?
  • How do you treat an ankle sprain?
  • Why should I go to Emory for sports medicine care

Emory Orthopaedic, Sports & Spine physician Dr. Olufade is a dedicated non-surgical sports medicine specialist who can offer tips and suggestions to keep you healthy or get you back to health so you can get back to your normal active routine! Sign Up for the Chat Now!

Is it a Sprain? Or a Fracture?

Dr. Rami Calis
When you injure your ankle, it may be hard to tell whether you’ve sprained it (stretched or torn a tendon or ligament) or fractured it (broken a bone). Generally speaking, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • If you have pain around the soft tissue areas but not over the bone, you probably have a sprain, not a break.
  • If you have pain over the ankle bone, you most likely have a break.
  • If you’re not able to walk on it, there’s a good chance you have a break.

If you’ve hurt your ankle but you’re not sure it’s serious, a general rule of thumb is to watch it for two to four days and use the RICE method—REST your ankle, put an ICE pack on it, use COMPRESSION, such as an Ace bandage or air cast (available at your local drugstore) to stabilize it, and ELEVATE it. If, after two to four days, you still have significant pain or difficulty putting weight on your foot, or you see black and blue marks or blisters, it’s time to see a doctor.

At the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center, our orthopedic specialists are experts at diagnosing and treating foot and ankle injuries. We use our clinical knowledge, an MRI when needed (we have the only 3-tesla MRI in the state—think of it as an MRI in HD), and X-rays to help determine whether you’ve fractured a bone or torn a ligament and whether the injury requires surgery. Most ankle injuries, whether fractures or sprains, can be treated conservatively, without surgery. However, if a fracture calls for surgery, we may use a plate and screws on the side of the bone or a screw or rod inside the bone to realign the bone fragments and stabilize them as they heal. Sometimes a soft tissue injury will require surgical intervention, as well, as it may create ankle instability and need to be repaired. However, most cases will do well with conservative care and physical therapy to follow.

When you see your doctor after an ankle injury, it’s important to describe in detail how the injury occurred. Did your foot turn under, out, in, or rotate? The more you can tell us, the more effectively we’ll be able to diagnose and treat your injury. Any information you can tell us is useful. At Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center, we focus on listening to the patient and tailoring a treatment plan that fits the patient, without compromising care or adequate healing time.

If you’ve sprained your ankle in the past and now find that it twists easily or feels weak, you may have damaged the ligaments, causing chronic ankle instability. Although you may not feel any pain originally, over time you may develop arthritis in your ankle. At Emory, we can try to implement physical therapy for ankle strengthening, but if that fails, it may be necessary to repair the ligaments so that your ankle is stabilized.

Remember—if your ankle hurts, don’t push it. There’s a reason your body is talking to you, so get it looked at by a doctor. Our goal is to keep you active for the long term not just the short term. The worst thing you can do is to try to push through the pain and ignore your body’s communication, as that may lead to long-term ankle joint disability and arthritis. It’s not uncommon for an ankle sprain to be painful for many months after an injury, and swelling may last for four months to a year, but if it still hurts to put weight on it two to three weeks after you’ve injured it, make an appointment at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center to see a foot and ankle specialist.

Have you sprained or broken your ankle? Have you had an ankle injury that required surgery? We’d like to hear about your experience. Please take a moment to give us feedback in the comments section below.

About Rami Calis, DPM:

Rami Calis, DPM, is assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedics. He is board certified and a Diplomate, American Board of Podiatric Orthopedics and Primary Podiatric Medicine, with an interest in sports medicine of the lower extremity and foot and ankle biomechanics. Dr. Calis holds clinic and does surgery at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center at Executive Park and also holds clinic in Duluth, at our satellite office. Dr. Calis’ professional goal is to improve patient care and quality of life for patients with foot and ankle problems. Dr. Calis began practicing at Emory in 2003.