Is It a Sprain or a Strain?

ankle injurySprains and strains are common injuries that share similar signs and symptoms, but involve different parts of the body.

Sprain: an injury to the ligaments, which connect the end of one bone to another

Strain: an injury to a muscle of tendon (which attaches muscle to bone)

Initial treatment for both injuries includes the RICE method: rest, ice, compression, and elevation.  By practicing the RICE method, you can treat your injury in the comfort of your home within a few days.


Avoid applying pressure to the injury by utilizing crutches and/or canes to assist with walking.


Apply ice for 2-30 minute intervals to curb redness, swelling, and pain for the first 24 hours following an injury.


Wrap up the injury in compression bandages to immobilize the injury.


Raise the injured area about your heart to bring down swelling.

While mild sprains and strains can be easily treated at home, severe sprains and strains may require further evaluation and treatment.

Some common symptoms you may experiencing if you’re suffering from a sprain injury include:

  • Sprains
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Limited ability to move or flex joint
  • At the time of injury, you may have heard or feel a “pop” in the joint

Some common symptoms you may experience if you’re suffering from a strain injury include

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Muscle spasms or cramps
  • Limited ability to move affected area

 How to Prevent Injuries

1. Warm up before every workout

Be sure to warm up before jumping into any physical activity to increase blood flow to the muscles and flexibility, and decrease injury.

2. Ease into your activity

Ease back into a sport or activity with pre-participation training/conditioning by lightly working the relevant muscle groups in the weeks before the strenuous activity.

3. Don’t Exert Yourself

Don’t overwork muscles that have been engaging for strenuous physical activity.  You can’t play in tomorrow’s game if you get sidelined with an injury today.

When to See a Doctor for Treatment

Most common sports injuries are mild or moderate and can be treated using the RICE method.  If the sprain or strain is severe, further treatment may be necessary.

At AFC Urgent Care Marlborough, we provide treatment for sports injuries such as:

  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Bruises
  • Fractures
  • & More

Our walk-in clinic is fully equipped with a digital x-ray system to deliver fast results and get you on an effective treatment plan.  For more information about our sports injury treatment, call us at or visit today!