A strain is a stretched or torn muscle or tendon. Tendons are tissues that connect muscle to bone. A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament. Ligaments attach bone to bone across a joint. A strain occurs when a muscle is stretched beyond its limits during the course of everyday activities, such as a sudden lifting or a twisting movement. Strains can happen suddenly or develop over time due to repetitive movements. This is commonly known as repetitive strain. Acute low back and hamstring muscle strains are common as well as ankle and knee ligament sprains. A ligament can be sprained due to a sudden unexpected movement, such as rolling your ankle on uneven ground or an external force such as an impact in a contact sport. Typically for both types of injury the area will be painful, swollen, red and bruised and the muscles may spasm and become weak.

Our Physiotherapist and Massage Therapists can diagnose the tissue injured and work with you to minimize the amount of damage from an injury and speed the healing and recovery process. Small and simple changes to your movements, combined with adequate treatments and following the Physio-4 for Strains n Sprains tips below, can prevent muscle strains and ligament sprains from becoming chronic injuries and prevent future episodes.

Physio-4 Strains n Sprains

Early on, relative rest is key (Acute Phase).

In the early stages of treating a strained muscle or sprained ligament, you should be resting the muscle or joint affected for at least 24-48 hours to ensure the small muscle and or ligament fibres that have been damaged have time to heal properly. Do not stretch in the early stages. You can use heat or ice for pain management and apply ice for 10 minutes at 2 hour intervals if there is swelling present. Compression and elevation can also reduce swelling. Avoid any painful activities such as the one that originally caused the injury. After a comprehensive assessment your physiotherapist will guide you by appropriately increasing your activities in order to avoid re-injury.

Protection is sometimes necessary.

The challenge of having an injury is that we still need to use the injured area with everyday life. This sometimes doesn’t allow our injury to heal so that’s when we use taping, splinting or braces. Hand strains, for instance, can take a long time to heal since it is hard to rest this area of the body. Your physiotherapist will tape or brace the strained/sprained area so that you can keep moving while your body heals. They will also advise when this can be discontinued to allow you to progress beyond the acute/inflammatory stage (24-48 hours – can last up to 6 days).

Move Early to Restore Normal Function after 48 hours (Subacute Phase 14-21 days post injury but can last up to 6 weeks).

Strained and sprained structures need to be moved within pain-free range of motion in the early phases. Balance, strength and control are improved gradually depending on the severity of the tissue damage. Early and limited movement is extremely important for repair and healing to be optimal. As you heal, practice simple pain-free skills that mimic movements you need for life, work or sport. Small and simple changes to your movements, combined with a comprehensive muscle strengthening and stretching routine, joint mobilization and stabilization, balance re-training and massage therapy can collectively prevent muscle strains/sprains or overuse injuries becoming chronic or returning in the future. Your physiotherapist and massage therapist will educate you on how to prevent re-injury and guide you along a path of optimal recovery and return to your active lifestyle.

Not all strains are equal.

The local area of a muscle strain or sprain will be painful, swollen, red and possibly bruised. The muscles or joints may be weak and painful to use. Treatments for strains and sprains are individualized, and based on the mechanism of injury, the degree of strain or sprain, the specific muscle(s) at fault, the functional or activity goals and previous fitness levels of the individual. Your physiotherapist will help you differentiate between a mild strain or sprain, that can be treated conservatively with physiotherapy and massage therapy, versus a severe strain such as a partial or complete tear that may require further medical investigation. Your physiotherapist will correct any bio-mechanical issues in session by re-aligning joints with joint mobilizations, stretching and strengthening tight and weak muscles, and if needed use tape to protect and provide longer lasting gains between sessions. Individualized exercise programs and or Yoga Therapy sequences are created to suit each clients’ personal needs. In some cases such as custom knee brace fitting or hand splinting referral to an occupational therapist or orthotist for bracing at the appropriate time may be required. Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy combined will always provide optimal results.

Physiotherapists and Massage Therapists are the rehabilitation specialists recommended most by physicians.

They are university-educated health care professionals who work with patients of all ages to diagnose and treat virtually any injury or mobility issue. Our Physiotherapist and Massage Therapists specialize in providing care to clients’ who have any joint or muscle pain especially those having undergone orthopaedic surgery or sporting related injuries. Our Team at Garibaldi Active Wellness knows how to keep you physically and mentally moving forward and how to improve your performance with each session; from when you stepped through the door to when you complete a course of treatment. Completing your prescribed course of treatment is essential for optimal results and to prevent re-injury.

(Typically 4-6 weeks is a good course of treatment- The Chronic stage can last 6 months to 1 year with more severe injury while tissues mature and remodel).

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