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Sprains and Strains

Sprains and Strains

The majority of sports injuries are caused by minor trauma involving muscles, ligaments, and/or tendons, including:

  • contusions (bruises)
  • sprains
  • strains

The most commonly sprained or strained joint is the ankle.
The three ligaments involved in ankles sprains/strains include:

  • anterior talofibular ligament
  • posterior talofibular ligament
  • calcaneofibular ligament

Sprains or strains are uncommon in younger children because their growth plates (areas of bone growth located in the ends of long bones) are weaker than the muscles or tendons. Instead, children are prone to fractures.

What is a contusion?

A contusion (bruise) is an injury to the soft-tissue often produced by a blunt force such as a kick, fall, or blow. The immediate result will be pain, swelling, and discoloration.

What is a sprain?

A sprain is a wrenching or twisting injury to a ligament. Sprains often affect the ankles, knees, or wrists.

What is a strain?

A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon, and is often caused by overuse, force, or stretching.

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What are the symptoms of a sprain or strain?

The following are the most common symptoms of a sprain or strain. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • pain in the injured area (The child typically may guard or protect this area from being touched or looked at.)
  • swelling in the injured area
  • difficulty using or moving the injured area in a normal manner (The child may have limited use or may not use the injured area at all. The child may walk with a limp if the injury occurred in the hip, leg, ankle, or foot area.)
  • warmth, bruising, or redness in the injured area

The symptoms of a sprain or strain may resemble other conditions. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

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This information is not designed to replace a physician's independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient.
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