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Ligament Sprains and Muscle Strains

Muscle Sprain or Ligament Strain

Ligamentous sprains and muscular strains are common injuries to the body. These two words are often used interchangeably, yet it is important to understand that they are different types of injuries, and need to be treated as such. Find out below what a sprain and a strain is.

What is a Sprain?

A sprain is an injury involving the stretching or tearing of a ligament (the tissue that connects bone to bone) or a joint capsule, which stabilises and supports the body's joints.

The Causes

Sprains occur when a joint is forced beyond its normal range of motion, most common being ankles, knees, and foot arches. Also due to:

  • Direct or indirect trauma that knocks a joint out of position, and over stretches, and in severe cases, ruptures the supporting ligaments. For example, landing on an outstretched arm; jumping up and landing on the side of the foot; or running on an uneven surface,
  • Weak muscles and poor physical shape,
  • Poor stretching/warm ups before exercise,
  • Low back pain from lifting heavy objects,
  • Hormonal interferences (e.g. during pregnancy)

What is a Strain?

Strains are injuries that involve the twisting, pulling or tearing of a muscle and/or tendon (fibrous cords of tissue that attach muscles to bone).

The Causes

Strains occur when a muscle is stretched and suddenly contracts, as with running or jumping. Common muscle strains include hamstrings and groin, due to

  • Overuse-prolonged repetitive movements of muscle and tendons.
  • Inadequate rest breaks during intensive training
  • A direct blow to the body, over stretching or excessive muscle contraction

Chiropractic Treatment Option

Your chiropractor will first assess your particular problem and treat accordingly. Typical treatment involves advice on icing the area, performing gentle stretches/ mobilisation exercises, muscle testing and spinal manipulation of the kinetic chain (e.g. if you sprained your ankle - treatment may include adjusting your foot, knee, hip, pelvis and spine).

Home rehabilitation exercises and advice may also be given, which enables you to have control and provide self-treatment over your own problem. Your chiropractor cannot be with you 24/7, and by giving you the education on how to help your problem, your body can heal itself faster.

Once your body has gotten over the acute inflammatory stage, training may begin on rehabilitation of the muscles/tendons/ligaments. Your chiropractor may give you home or gym training exercises and core stability advice. They may also refer you to a physiotherapist or biokinetist for further care of the injury. If your chiropractor feels there is too much damage they may also refer you for further imaging studies like ultrasound scans, x-rays etc... There may be times when an orthopaedic referral is needed for major ligament damage or muscle strains.

Speak with a chiropractor who has a special interest in sports injuries and related muscle sprains/ligament strains for any further advice on your situation.

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