Sprains Versus Strains

Nobody cares about Marvel versus DC. It’s Marvel, by the way; superheroes who wear their underwear on the outside automatically can’t win.

No, what people care about are confusingly similar medical terms that mean almost the same thing.

Enter the arena: sprains and strains.


  • Stretch or tear of a ligament
    • Ligaments connect bone with bone
    • LBB, which is almost LLB, which stands for Bachelor Of Laws if you have any legal-minded friends
  • Memory aid: sprain doesn’t have a t in it, so it refers to the one that’s not about tendons


  • Stretch or tear of a muscle or tendon
    • Tendons connect muscle with bone
    • TMB, as in too much bother, which is sometimes the case with all this intellectual medicine business
  • Memory aid: strains correlate with tendons, which are related to muscles

Initial treatment

  • RICE for the first 48 hours
    • Rest
    • Ice
    • Compression
    • Elevation
  • Analgesia
    • Paracetamol
    • Then consider NSAIDs if pain persists
  • Movement
    • Early mobilisation and passive movement as soon as pain allows it


  1. Mayo Clinic. (2017). Sprains and strains – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sprains-and-strains/symptoms-causes/syc-20377938 [Accessed 26 Dec. 2017].
  2. Acute pain: minor trauma [revised 2015 Feb]. In: eTG complete [Internet]. Melbourne: Therapeutic Guidelines Limited (eTG November 2017 edition); 2017 Nov.

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