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Difference Between Ankle Sprain and Strain

Ankle sprain vs strain


It’s common to mistake one thing for another, such as, for example, the difference between an ankle sprain and a strain. Recognizing the difference is like trying to find out which came first, the chicken or the egg. But finally understanding the difference is very liberating.


Ankle sprains and strains are two different physical injuries that involve the body’s tissues, muscles, and bones.  Really knowing the similarities and distinctions between the two may be unimportant to some people, but knowing the facts could make a huge difference and might help you some day.


An ankle sprain is an injury that affects the ligament of the ankle. Ligaments are the connective tissue that connect one bone to another. They are important because they give ankle joints stability by avoiding side-to-side movement. Sprained ankles can be caused by a sudden twist of the ankle, a heavy fall, the wrong sized shoes, and walking on uneven surfaces. The severity of the injury depends on whether the ligament was stretched, turned or twisted, slightly torn or completely torn.  Treatment for an ankle sprain also varies according to its severity. It is extremely important that a sprained ankle gets medical attention right away because lack of treatment may lead to a chronic ankle sprain that reduces the chances of the injured person to ever walk normally again. One should also note that ankle sprains, severe or not, may go unnoticed because they can be masked by other serious leg injuries, so it is really important that a person who has suffered a leg trauma should get treatment for his/her leg injury right away.


You can identify an ankle sprain by the level of the pain you are experiencing. Symptoms of ankle sprain include swelling, bruising, stiffness in the joint area, pain and soreness, and of course, difficulty in walking. Sprains can be treated by self-care at home or by medical treatment such as the application of a cast using crutches and anti-inflammatory medicines.


Strains, on the other hand, are pain in the muscles or tendons. They are commonly known as pulled muscles and are typically encountered in athletes who overuse their muscles by performing extreme activities. Athletes may also experience this problem because of a lack of stretching, muscle fatigue, muscle imbalance, and poor muscle condition. Strains can also occur because of a physical blow, such as in a car accident, a fall, and other acute trauma caused by external factors. Too much stretching of the muscles can also damage blood vessels. The most common parts of the human body where these injuries occur are the arms and legs. Symptoms of strain include bruising, stiffness of the affected area, extreme pain, and difficulty in moving. This can be treated easily and they can even be treated at home. However, if the pain persists for more than 24 hours of self-care treatment, the patient should seek medical attention.



1. Ankle sprains are limited to the pain occurring in the ankle area of a human body, whereas strains can be suffered both in the arm area and the leg area.

2. If not treated, an ankle sprain could lead to abnormality in walking, but strains can only lead to more pain.

3. Strains are most common in athletes who use their muscles’ capabilities beyond their limit. Ankle sprains can occur in anyone.

4. Symptoms of strains are more obvious and will not go unnoticed, whereas symptoms of muscle sprain could be masked by other leg injuries, making a sprain more dangerous for the person suffering from it

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