Sprain or Tear
Sprains and tears are often mistaken for fractures because they are both musculoskeletal injuries. A sprain or tear, however, occurs when the ligament, or the tissue connecting two bones, stretches or tears. Unlike a fracture, where the bone cracks or breaks, a sprain or tear affects the ligament. Therefore, the difference in determining whether it is a fracture or a sprain depends on whether the bone or tissue has been damaged. Another indication of a sprain or tear is that the joint may become floppy or unstable after the injury.
Sprains and tears occur when a person falls or overextends a joint that ruptures the ligaments supporting it. Ankles and knees are common areas where sprains occur. There are varying degrees of sprain, ranging from mild to severe. In a mild sprain, the joint is stable, while the ligament stretches. A moderate sprain is when the ligament is partially torn. When this happens, the joint becomes unstable. When a severe sprain occurs, the ligament tears fully and can come apart from the bone.
The symptoms of sprains and tears include pain, swelling, and inflammation. There may be bruising and a strong feeling of release near the injured joint, which might make a popping noise. It might also be difficult to move the injured limb.
Treatment for a sprain or tear includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation. In severe cases, the limb must be fully immobilized. Sometimes, physical therapy or surgical options may be needed.