Both sprains and strains can be caused by the same mechanisms as a fracture. An x-ray can be used to differentiate between the two.
A sprain is when a ligament that supports a joint is abnormally stretched or torn. A strain is when a muscle or tendon is abnormally stretched or torn. Sprains and strains can be caused by a single event or repetitive activities.
A sprain or strain can usually be diagnosed after a history of the injury has been taken and a physical examination has been performed by a healthcare professional. X-rays, CAT scan, or MRI scan may be needed to help make or confirm the diagnosis.
The keys to treatment are RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation).
Anti-inflammatory medications may help to decrease the inflammation and pain of the injury.
Most sprains and strains resolve over time, but sometimes other treatment, including physical therapy or surgery, may be necessary.