Sprains and strains are two distinct injuries, but because they share similar causes and symptoms, it can be difficult to tell them apart. Learn the difference between sprains and strains and when you should seek medical care. Regardless of which injury you have, you can seek diagnosis and treatment at Fast Track Urgent Care in Silver Spring and Kensington.
You can stop by either of our offices to get treatment for stains and sprains without making an appointment! You can find us at:
10540 Connecticut Ave
Kensington, MD 20895
13428 New Hampshire Ave
Silver Spring, MD 20904
To learn more about sprain and strain diagnosis and treatment in Maryland, contact us online or give us a call at 800-417-1164.
Symptoms of Sprains & Strains
Sprains and strains are both examples of soft-tissue injuries. They often result from landing abnormally, twisting too far, or getting hit. While they share similarities, sprains and strains have significant differences:
- A sprain occurs when a ligament is stretched or torn. This strong band of connective tissue connects bone to bone. The areas of the body most vulnerable to sprains are the ankles, knees, and wrists, though any joint can experience a sprain.
- A strain occurs when a muscle or a tendon connecting muscle to bone is stretched or torn. This injury often results from quick stretching motions, such as hurdling, long jumping, and running. Extensive gripping from tennis, gymnastics, golf, and rowing can cause hand muscle strains. Throwing, tennis, and contact sports can cause elbow strains.
The signs and symptoms of sprains and strains include:
- Swelling, stiffness, and bruising
- Pain that worsens with movement
- Joint or muscle discomfort
- Inability to move the affected joint
- Feeling a pop or tear when the injury occurs
- Warmth in the joint
Treatment for Sprains & Strains
When you first sustain your injury, follow the RICE principle, which is effective for all soft-tissue injuries:
- Rest the injured joint immediately and for at least 24 to 48 hours – longer if possible. This means avoiding all use of the affected joint.
- Ice the injury as soon as possible to reduce swelling and help with the pain. Wrap an ice pack or bag of frozen peas in a towel and gently hold it to the injury. Keep the ice in place for 10 to 15 minutes at a time up to four times per day for two days.
- Compress the injury by wrapping an elastic bandage around it. Wrap the area loosely enough that it doesn’t cut off circulation.
- Elevate the swollen joint for the first 24 hours. The goal is to keep the injured area above your heart, even while sleeping, to reduce swelling. Use a sling or prop the joint up on a pillow.
In addition to following the RICE principle, you can also take over-the-counter painkillers to make you more comfortable until the sprain or strain heals, which could take a week to 10 days for mild injuries or several weeks for severe ones.
At-home care is enough to treat mild soft-tissue injuries, but you should visit Fast Track Urgent Care if:
- Your joint pops at the time of injury or you’re unable to move the joint at all. Apply ice on the way to the urgent care clinic.
- The joint feels hot and inflamed and you have a fever, which are signs of infection.
- The pain is brutal, which could indicate a severe injury.
- Joint swelling doesn’t diminish after 48 hours of following the RICE principle.
Come to Fast Track Urgent Care for Sprain & Strain Treatment in Montgomery County
The compassionate medical team at Fast Track Urgent Care provides high-quality care in an innovative clinic. We serve all of Montgomery County, MD with locations in Silver Spring and Kensington. Let our skillful staff diagnose your soft-tissue injury and begin treatment for your sprain or strain if necessary.
Stop by today if you have an emergency— no appointment necessary! You can also contact us online or call 800-417-1164 to learn more.