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Is a Sprain the Same as a Tear?

shutterstock 1610759395 The terms “sprain” and “tear” are often used interchangeably by people who experience some type of pain associated with an injury. An orthopedic specialist knows that, though there are some similarities between the two, they are not the same. Here, we discuss the differences between sprains and tears so, if you experience pain, you can better understand when to seek medical attention. 

What is a Sprain?

A sprain is a minor injury to a ligament, a piece of fibrous connective tissue that attaches two or more bones. Ligaments are integral to joint support. This tissue may stretch or tear due to extreme twisting or a fall. A sprain may cause mild to severe pain depending on how badly the ligament has stretched. Also, how long it takes for the ligament to heal depends on the severity of the injury. Sprains can take a few days to several weeks to fully heal.

This injury is classified as follows:

  • A mild sprain involves a stretched ligament but no joint instability. 
  • A moderate sprain involves a partial tear of the ligament and minor joint instability.
  • A severe sprain involves a complete tear of the ligament from the bone. 

Symptoms of a sprain include:

  • Localized pain
  • Limited range of motion
  • Inflammation and swelling
  • Bruising
  • Hearing or feeling a ‘pop’ in your joint during injury

What is a Tear?

A tear may affect a ligament, muscle, or tendon. This type of injury may occur under the same conditions as a sprain. However, the tear is a more serious problem. Where a minor sprain may heal in a week or so, a minor tear can take several weeks. A more severe muscle or tendon tear may heal over several months. Sometimes, tears require surgical repair. 

Symptoms of a tear include:

  • A popping sound during the time of the injury
  • Sudden, severe pain
  • Immediate bruising
  • Inability to bear weight on the affected area
  • The feeling of a loose joint
  • Immobility of the affected joint
  • Visual deformity

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At Orthopedic Associates of Long Island, we believe that compassionate care stems from  mutual understanding, trust, and respect. We have several office locations to serve you. Contact us at  631.689.6698 to schedule a consultation

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