Which is Worse a Strain or a Sprain?

A foot strain and foot sprain are two different injuries. But sometimes, when you first get hurt, it's hard to know what athletic injury you've experienced. So, with this guide, we'll explain each injury, then offer treatment tips for your unique sports injury.

What is a foot strain? interior of foot anatomy with foot strain

If you're diagnosed with a foot strain, it means you've stretched or torn tendons and muscles in your foot.

What is a foot sprain?

In contrast, when you sprain your foot, it means you've torn or stretched the ligaments in your foot. (Ligaments are a kind of tissue that connects your bones.)

Causes and Symptoms

Typically, the risk factors for a foot strain and foot sprain are the same. Usually, the problems begin when you twist or turn your foot or ankle. When the force hits your foot, it can roll too far inwards or outwards, and that can cause the stretching or tearing that leads to injury.

Symptoms for both injuries are also very similar. These include pain, especially when you try to walk, that's localized over the site of your injury.  You may also develop swelling at the injury site. If you can walk, it will be difficult, and you'll probably need to limp. Finally, you may develop a bruise around the injury site.

Diagnosis: How Can You Tell if It's a Foot Strain?

We will most likely diagnose your foot strain with a physical exam, after discussing how you sustained your injury. In some cases, we'll also order an X-ray to rule out a foot fracture. Once we've confirmed your foot is strained or sprained, we'll also classify the sevirty of your injury. The classifications range from mild (grade I) to severe (grade III.) And that classification matters, because it will help decide how we treat your injury.

Foot Strain Treatment in Powder Springs, GA

If you have a mild foot strain, we can treat your injury at home. We'll suggest RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation), along with anti-inflammatory medications. With a mild injury, you should start feeling better in two weeks, but healing could take as long as eight weeks, especially if your injury is more moderate.

In severe cases, you may need to immobilize a strained foot. You may even need surgery to heal your injury. If that is the case, your recovery period will last longer.

After a foot injury, it's important to seek immediate treatment. While you may be able to walk on a sprained or strained foot, doing so can worsen your injury. So, if you're out for a run, having a catch, or take a misstep and feel pain? Make an immediate appointment with Dr. Alvin Cowans. The sooner we diagnose your injury, the sooner we can start your healing and get you back into action.

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