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Sprains and Strains

Sprains and Strains


What Are Sprains and Strains?

Although these conditions sound similar, sprains and strains affect you in different ways:

  • Sprains happen when you stretch or tear the fibrous bands of tissue that connect bones to a joint (ligaments).
  • Strains occur when small tears form in muscle tissue or the tissue that connects muscle to bone (tendons).

No matter which condition you have, sprains and strains are no match for our experienced team of sports medicine doctors, physical therapists and athletic trainers. We help athletes and active people like you overcome injuries so you can get back to what you love most. Our advanced treatments for sprains and strains include physical therapy, acupuncture, customized splints and more.

The Aurora Difference

Expert Care for Sprains and Strains

Sprains and strains can come on suddenly and make once simple tasks difficult. At Aurora Health Care, you don’t have to wait to feel better.

We make it easy for you to get relief from sprains and strains by offering:

  • Treatment and prevention in one program: Our team of doctors, physical therapists and athletic trainers tailor treatments to meet your unique needs. We also offer performance programs, like a running form assessment, to help prevent re-injury. Learn more about sports health services and treatments.
  • Care right when you need it: Our athletic trainers attend practices and games of many local sports teams. We also provide game-day coverage to Marquette University athletic teams, the Milwaukee Admirals hockey team, the Lakeshore Chinooks collegiate summer baseball league and many area high schools. (See our team medical coverage roster.) When sprains and strains occur, we deliver care right from the sidelines. Find out more about our team medical coverage program.
  • Convenience: Aurora sports medicine experts are available in clinics throughout eastern Wisconsin and Northern Michigan, and many locations offer same-day appointments so you can get care as quickly as possible. Whatever you may need – from customized splints to physical therapy to dry needling – our experts work together to coordinate your care so you don’t have to. Get sports health care.


Signs of Sprains and Strains

Sprains happen when you land in an awkward position, causing small tears in your ligaments. Sprains are common in the ankles and wrists. Learn more about a sprained ankle and wrist pain.

Symptoms of sprains include:

  • Swelling
  • Pain that gets worse over time
  • Bruising

Strains commonly occur at work, most often in the legs or back due to repetitive motions, like heavy lifting.

Symptoms of strains include:

  • Muscles that twitch uncontrollably, resulting in short bursts of pain (spasms)
  • Weakness in the injured area
  • Difficulty moving the injured muscle


Tests & Imaging for Sprains and Strains

We’re often able to diagnose sprains and strains with a physical exam.

During an exam, we:

  • Listen carefully as you describe the symptoms and events that led up to the injury
  • Gently touch and move the affected area to determine how serious the injury is
  • Order imaging tests, like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to rule out other conditions, like torn (ruptured) muscles. Learn more about biceps tear.

Find out more about orthopedic diagnosis.


Treating Sprains and Strains

Many sprains and strains heal on their own. But if you have a serious injury or are in a lot of pain, treatment can help you stay comfortable and promote healing.

Once you have experienced a sprain or strain, you also face a higher risk of re-injuring the same area. Our experts can help you plan a gradual return to your favorite activities to help you stay healthy in the long run.

Treatments for sprains and strains may include:

  • Physical therapy: Our physical therapists can help you regain strength and increase range of motion after a sprain or strain with the help of special exercises. Find out more about orthopedic physical therapy.
  • Occupational therapy: We teach you safe ways of performing daily activities – like driving, lifting and taking care of yourself – as you heal from a sprain or strain. Read more about occupational therapy.
  • Integrative therapies: We offer treatments that relieve pain and promote healing without medications (integrative medicine). Your sprain or strain treatment may include acupuncture or massage therapy.
  • Customized splints or casts: Sometimes, sprains and strains need extra support during healing. You may receive a ready-to-use splint or a specially made (custom) brace. We can help you get the devices you need and make sure they fit correctly.

Find an Aurora Rehabilitation Center

Need care? Find the location of an Aurora facility that’s convenient to you.

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We offer sports injury care throughout eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

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