What Is The Difference Between A Muscle Sprain And A Strain

How long does it take a pulled muscle to heal is often asked by the patients. It depends upon the intensity of the injury. Treatment options also determine the healing process. There are several methods to treat a pulled muscle. It is important to differentiate between the muscle strain and muscle sprain for getting proper treatment. The differentiating line stands between the affected areas. A strain occurs when you have any injury to the muscle or a tendon. A sprain, on the other hand, occurs when an injury causes the breaking of the muscles and tendons. Learn a detailed overview of the differences between a muscle strain and a muscle sprain. 

Muscle Sprain And Muscle Strain

The main difference between a sprain and strain is the site of injury. How long does it take a pulled muscle to heal is dependent upon the condition which is causing it. If a sudden change in movement or trauma, or accident causes an injury to your muscles, it is a strain. Tendons are also easily affected when a strain happens. When the integrity of a ligament is affected, it means that you are suffering from a sprain. Many people confuse the two and are not sure what to name it. If your muscles and tendons are involved, you can easily name it strain. On the other hand, the torn ligaments with pain and swelling are kept in the category of muscle strain. 



There are multiple reasons for the sprain. The ligaments of your joint can get easily affected by any unplanned movement. This can be a falling, twisting, or falling on your hand injury. When this happens, the ligaments are torn and stretched. The most common reasons for sprain include falling and landing on the arm and twisting your knees. Football players, hockey players, and soccer players are prone to sprains. 


A strain occurs when you are lifting a heavyweight. It results in the stretching of the muscles and tendons. Another important thing about strain is that it can develop at the moment right away, and it can also take days to occur. The most common causes of this strain revolve around a recent injury and overstressing the muscles. People who start an exercise and do not give themselves a good break are also prone to strains. People who love swimming or playing golf can easily get thee strains.  


Both of these conditions will reveal themselves with certain symptoms. The common symptoms that differentiate them from each other are described below. 


The common symptoms of a sprain include bruising and pain in the joint. The pain of the stretching of a ligament is excruciating. You might not be capable of moving the joint as well. Swelling is also commonly observed in these areas. Swelling occurs because of the result of the injury. The affected area is inflamed in painful to touch. 


The most common symptom of a strain is muscle spasm. There is a feeling of tightness in the muscles. Sometimes patient even complains about pain when moving the strained muscle. Cramping is also a common complaint of the patients. If the injury has completely torn the muscles, it will be extremely painful. To reduce the pain, you will need immediate medical help. 


The diagnostic procedure for both of these conditions is almost the same. When you go to a doctor, they will ask about the accident or injury. They will also perform a detailed physical examination to pinpoint what is going wrong. Many physiotherapists even check the range of motions to make sure it is a strain or a sprain. If the extent of the injury is expected to be serious, doctors also recommend MRI. X-rays are the most common test to perform when patients with sprains and strains come. X-rays and MRIs give the best diagnosis because of their high-quality results. 

Treatment Options

The treatment options are the same for both of the conditions. If there is swelling, you need to get yourself checked. Doctors most recommend resting the area with injury. The swelling can be there for the initial days. You can also use anti-inflammatory medications on the recommendation of doctors. If swelling is not going away, you can also use crutches to not put weight on the affected area. Compression therapy is also helpful for reducing swelling.

You can use cold packs or heat packs to decrease the swelling. This alternate therapy is famous for getting rid of strains. Make sure you are not applying heat for a long time because it can flare up the inflammation as well. Bandages can also be easily used to promote healing. Massage therapy and doing little stretches and exercises also help. Physiotherapists suggest a plan of exercises specifically designed for strains and sprains. Elevating the injured are also helps and improves blood circulation. Better circulation of blood results in quick healing. 

How long does it take a pulled muscle to heal depends upon the severity of the injury. It is essential to know the difference between strains and sprains. A sprain affects the ligaments of the joint, while a strain is confined to the muscles and tendons. The symptoms of these two conditions include swelling, bruising, and pain. Treatment options include using compression therapy and taking medication for reducing pain. Diagnosis often revolves around checking the range of motion and performing X-rays and MRI.