Skip to main content

What Are Sprains, Strains, and Bruises?

Three-dimensional animation illustrating a sprain

Three-dimensional animation illustrating a sprain

A sprain is an injury to a joint, such as the ankle, knee, or wrist. In a sprain, the ligaments are stretched or torn. This is usually caused by stretching, twisting, or pressure at the joint. One symptom of a sprain is swelling over the joint, which appears very quickly. You also can't use the joint without increasing pain, and it may look discolored. Since a joint may also be fractured, it shouldn't be used until it has been properly examined. Sometimes it takes longer for a sprain to heal than a simple break in a bone!

A strain is a different kind of injury. In a strain it is the muscle or tendon that is injured. This usually comes from some severe exertion, such as lifting a heavy object from an awkward position.

The symptoms of a strain are stiffness and pain in the part that is affected. The first thing to do for a person who has received a strain is to make him comfortable so that the injured muscles are relaxed. In some cases, heat application and gentle massage will provide some relief by stimulating the circulation. Always rub the affected part in an upward direction. Rubbing alcohol may help in the gentle massage to "loosen up" the tightened muscles.

A bruise is still another kind of injury. It is caused by a blow. to some part of the body that breaks the small blood vessels under the skin. As the blood collects in the tissues, it causes swelling and discoloration. A cold cloth may help to prevent discoloration, reduce the swelling, and relieve pain. But usually no treatment is needed for minor bruises. If the skin is broken, a bruise should be treated as any other open wound.

Take care when participating in sport, training or exercising so you can avoid sprains, strains and bruises. Warming up, stretching and using the right form goes a long way towards preventing such injuries.

Scroll to Continue

Related Articles