Understanding the Basics Behind Sprains, Strains, & Tears
What are Sprains, Strains, & Tears?
Soft tissue injuries such as sprains, strains, and tears fall into two major categories: acute injuries and overuse injuries. In some cases, the injury’s onset is sudden (acute); in other cases, the injury could arise over time.
A sprain happens when ligaments—bands of connective tissue that stabilize joints—stretch and/or tear. Strains, on the other hand, occur from a tendon or muscle injury. Both issues could lead to pain and limited range of motion. A strain or sprain treatment aims to heal the muscle, tendon, or ligament to optimize mobility and ease pain.
Causes of Sprains, Strains, & Tears
Sprains commonly affect the wrists, knees, and ankles. When you overextend a ligament while adding severe stress to the joint, the connective band can tear or stretch. This could happen from a variety of activities.
Walking on an uneven surface that causes the foot to turn inward or awkwardly landing from a jump
A sudden twist or pivoting during physical activity
Overextension during racquet sports or landing on your wrist after a fall
Symptoms of Sprains, Strains, & Tears
While the onset of sprains, strains, and tears may come from different factors and activities, various symptoms point to the conditions.
Common symptoms of sprains include:
- Popping sound at the time of injury
- Limited range of motion
- Tenderness or pain
- Bruising & inflammation
- Muscle spasms
- Physical or Occupational Therapy
- Specialized treatments (Tenex)
- Therapeutic injections
- Surgery (in rare, severe cases)
Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance Sprains, strains, & tears Assessment
Assessing the Injury
If you suspect you have a sprain, strain, or tear, it is important you schedule an appointment as soon as possible. That way, we can assess the issue and determine the best course of action moving forward.
Assessment for sprains and strains begins with a thorough interview so we can understand your perspective on the mechanism of injury. From there, we move to a comprehensive physical examination. During this exam, we evaluate the injury by checking for swelling and pain points. By determining the location and severity of your pain, we gain insight into the extent of soft tissue damage.
Diagnostic testing, including X-ray and ultrasound may be effective at helping our specialists determine the extent of a strain or sprain injury. We want to ensure that we rule out things like fractures or tendon tears that could contribute to a patient’s pain complaints.
During your initial appointment, we will often ask questions such as:
Once we have clear insight into your injury, we can move forward and build a treatment plan catered to your needs and lifestyle. If you are an athlete, our sports medicine physicians will create a return-to-play program based on the sport and injury severity.
- Does your pain currently limit you or your activities?
- Has your pain progressed or worsened recently?
- Have you noticed any change in your symptoms that has made it more challenging to function?
- What are your lifestyle goals?
- How has pain affected those goals?
How to Prevent Sprains, Strains, & Tears
While sprains, strains, and tears could develop suddenly, they are often the result of damage over time. The moment you notice discomfort during regular activities, take a break, change positions, or attempt to gently stretch the affected area. That will give your ligaments, muscles, and tendons a chance to rest, especially if they have experienced constant strain.
For athletes, cross-training can help ease stress by alternating different activities. For example, instead of running every day, you could alternate days between running and lower impact exercise. Even while performing your regular sport, be sure to focus on your form and technique. In doing so, you can optimize your movement patterns.
If you work a physically repetitive job, practice ergonomics in the workplace. Assess where you work and determine how you can adjust your space to decrease mechanical stress. This may include switching chairs, getting an ergonomic keyboard, alternating between sitting and standing, or adjusting your body position while performing your work tasks.
Regardless of who you are, stretching and strengthening your muscles can help prevent tendonitis. Tight tendons and muscles may be more likely to become damaged. In addition, failure to strengthen your muscles may reduce their ability to withstand stress.
About Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance
Meet Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance
Our board-certified, fellowship-trained physicians and surgeons are highly experienced in their respective fields and are considered among the top orthopedic providers in the Midwest.
Along with our Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, and support staff, Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance physicians deliver the utmost level of dedicated care across a range of subspecialties. We’ve worked hard to build Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance with all the benefits of a large orthopedic collective, while maintaining the community impact and familiarity of an intimate, private-practice model.
While diverse in background and capabilities, the common thread that brings all of our team members together is our patient-centered approach.
Get the sprain, strain and tear treatment in Kansas City you need.
Our care is personal. Our team is knowledgeable. And we’re more available than ever.
With access to board-certified specialists across Kansas City, we have the tools to meet almost every musculoskeletal condition.
Overland Park, Kansas10777 Nall Ave Suite 300 Overland Park, KS 66211
Leawood, Kansas3651 College Blvd. Leawood, KS 66211
Kansas City, MissouriSaint Luke's Medical Plaza #1 4320 Wornall Rd., Ste. 610 Kansas City, MO 64111
Belton, MissouriBelton Regional Campus 17067 S Outer Rd #301 Belton, MO 64012
Merriam, Kansas7450 W. Frontage Rd Merriam, KS 66203
Frequently Asked Questions
I am impressed!
6 weeks post op and Dr. Brown says I’m progressing well. She’s very knowledgeable, and is very quick to answer any questions I have. She’s also very personable, we laughed a lot during my last appointment. Looking forward to seeing her again.
Stephanie was very thorough with her examination of my lower back. ‘Have been in pain for some time. She was professional but friendly and made me feel comfortable. After my MRI, I will go back for further assessment and treatment.