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The Difference Between Sprains and Strains

People frequently confuse the terms sprains and strains. In short, a sprain is the tearing or rupture of a ligament that holds a joint together. A strain is the tearing or overstretching of a muscle or tendon. Strains are usually the result of putting too much stress on a tight or weak muscle. This can happen if you engage in a burst of energy without properly warming up. A sprain, however, is caused by the sudden, often forceful, twisting of a joint that causes a ligament to stretch. The severity of a sprain depends on how far the ligament is stretched. In both cases, attention must be paid to complete recovery from the injury to avoid developing a chronic condition. Several symptoms are common to both strains and sprains. Included are pain, tenderness, and limitation of movement. Swelling and inflammation are also common. Finally, the injury might cause internal bleeding, which results in a bruise. If you have incurred an injury to the foot or ankle that exhibits any of these symptoms, please see a podiatrist as soon as possible for an examination and a diagnosis.

Foot and ankle trauma is common among athletes and the elderly. If you have concerns that you may have experienced trauma to the foot and ankle, consult with our podiatrist from Dr. Powers Foot and Ankle. Our doctor will assess your condition and provide you with quality foot and ankle treatment.

Foot and ankle trauma cover a range of injuries all over the foot; common injuries include:

  • Broken bones
  • Muscle strains
  • Injuries to the tendons and ligaments
  • Stress fractures


Symptoms of foot and ankle injuries vary depending on the injury, but more common ones include:

  • Bruising
  • Inflammation/ Swelling
  • Pain


To properly diagnose the exact type of injury, podiatrists will conduct a number of different tests. Some of these include sensation and visual tests, X-rays, and MRIs. Medical and family histories will also be taken into account.


Once the injury has been diagnosed, the podiatrist can than offer the best treatment options for you. In less severe cases, rest and keeping pressure off the foot may be all that’s necessary. Orthotics, such as a specially made shoes, or immobilization devices, like splints or casts, may be deemed necessary. Finally, if the injury is severe enough, surgery may be necessary.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact one of our offices located in Bloomington, Bedford, and Washington, IN . We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot care needs.

Read more about Foot and Ankle Fractures

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