Is there a difference between sprains and tears?

Many people confuse the phrases sprain and tear; while they are both injuries, they are not the same. Learn more about each of these common sports injuries and how to recognise them by reading on.

What exactly is a sprain?

A sprain occurs when a ligament is overstretched or torn as a result of a fall, a joint twisting, or an injury to the body. Ligaments are fibrous connective tissue that connects bones; ligaments normally hold joints together to give stability.

Depending on the severity of the injury, sprains can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to heal. Mild to severe sprains can occur

  • - A mild sprain occurs when the damaged ligament is stretched but the joint remains stable.

  • - A moderate sprain occurs when the ligament is partially ripped but not totally separated from the bone. As a result, the joint becomes unstable.

  • - A severe sprain occurs when the torn or detached ligament is fully ripped or separated from the bone.

Symptoms of a Sprain

  • - During an injury, you may hear or feel a 'pop' in your joint.

  • - Pain that is restricted to one area

  • - Swelling and inflammation

  • - Bruising

  • - Range of motion is restricted

What is the definition of a tear?

Tears occur when a ligament, tendon, or muscle's fibrous tissue is ripped. Tears can be caused by the same movements that cause sprains, but they are a more dangerous injury.

While mild tears might mend in a few weeks, serious tendon and muscle tears can take months to recover. Minor tears may be treated with rest and therapy, but more serious tears may require surgery.

Symptoms of Tears

  • - Sudden, excruciating pain

  • - During the injury, there was a "pop" sound.

  • - The sensation of a sloppy joint

  • - Impossibility of bearing weight on the afflicted area

  • - Bruising that occurs right away

  • - The damaged joint is immobile.

  • - Visual impairment
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