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Tears And The Road To Recovery

Sprains & Strains explained

The terms 'Sprain, strain and tear' are often confused with one another and so I thought... Lets blog about it!

With this blog I aim to explain to you the difference between each of the terms and describe briefly the course of action we take for each incident.


A ligament is a thick band of cartilage that attach bone to bone, that can become injured in response to being over stretched or torn. This is known as a sprain. Sprains often occur when we become unstable in a joint during movement, like when a footballer rolls his ankle. The joint has been overstretched outside of its normal range of movement, therefore the ligaments will become sprained. Bruising, swelling, instability, and pain in movement are common symptoms experienced after a sprain occurs.

Ligament sprains grading follows along similarly to muscle strain grades.

  • Grade I: the ligament has been overstretched

  • Grade II: the ligament has been partially torn

  • Grade III: the ligament is completely torn


A strain, which we often refer to as a 'pulled muscle' is a soft tissue injury that can happen in both muscles and tendons. This is often caused by a muscle being put under more stress than it can exert. Grade I: Up to 10% of fibres torn

  • This can cause mild pain and swelling

  • Normal strength but a little painful

Grade II: A large amount of fibres torn

  • You will experience moderate to severe pain

  • Once bruising and inflammation has subsided, depending on the muscle and how superficial it is, you will see that the area looks different to the other side. This is because the muscle is not attached.

  • Bruising, swelling and inflammation are often present

  • There will be a lack of strength and function to the affected area

  • Normal activities such a walking with a grade II hamstring tear will be painful

Grade III: A complete Rupture

  • There will be considerate bruising, swelling and inflammation to the site of injury and below (gravity pulls bruising and swelling down. If you have a hamstring rupture or tear, it is not unusual to have a very swollen lower leg)

  • The muscle is not attached however you may experience too much movement through the affected limb, over mobile and complete lack of function.

  • You will experience moderate to severe pain

  • If you ruptured your hamstring for example, you would find your gait (walking pattern) to be affected.


Phases oh rehabilitation

In next weeks blog we will divulge into the phases oh rehabilitation for each grade of strain. I hope this has helped you in knowing the differences between the terminology, but most importantly, the steps you take if the unfortunate situation arises that you become injured. Here at the clinic we aim to diagnose, asses and rehabilitate such injuries, however an initial understanding of your injury can make a huge difference in a successful path back to fitness.

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