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Real Men Wear Gowns: Strains and sprains

A sprain involves the pulling or stretching of a ligament while a strain involves muscles or tendons.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — While he and his colleagues see it all when it comes to injuries suffered by weekend warriors, Doctor Nick Esala says strains and sprains are two of the most commonly assessed soft-tissue problems at TRIA Orthopedic Urgent Care. 

"You tend to have pretty immediate pain, sometimes you can have subsequent swelling," explains Esala. "You can have decreased range of motion with a specific joint."

A sprain involves the pulling or stretching of a ligament while a strain involves muscles or tendons. If you think you’ve sustained one of those injuries…remember the word RICE to help reduce pain and swelling...

  • Rest – from all activities that put weight on the injured joint
  • Ice – to decrease swelling and reduce pain
  • Compression – to reduce blood flow to the area
  • Elevation –above heart-level to decrease swelling

"Sometimes these milder sprains can get better after a couple of days even up to a week to 10-days with simple rest and conservative management."

If the injury doesn’t improve though, trying to push through it could cause further damage.

"This is something that should certainly be seen in a clinic setting to determine if this is something that would need x-rays to make sure there is not a fracture associated or to make sure that there is a good plan of care to make sure they get back to activities in an appropriate manner," says Esala. 

These nuisance injuries don't happen by chance: Dr. Esala says there are things you can do BEFORE a workout to reduce your chances of ending up on the shelf. 

"Proper stretching before you take part in activities. So, some gentle range of motion exercises or even just going for a simple run, to kind of jog and get loose can be pretty helpful."

If you do get a sprain or strain, TRIA walk-in clinics are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week in Bloomington, Maple Grove and Woodbury.