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Tillman & Associates, Attorneys at Law

What's the difference between a sprain, a strain, and a tear?

A lot of soft-tissue injuries occur on the job, especially among those who have to do a lot of heavy lifting, walking, carrying or other physical activity.

How do you tell if a soft-tissue injury is something serious or not? What's the difference, really, between a sprain, a strain, and a tear?

1. A sprain is a damaged ligament.

Ligaments are fibrous tissues that connect one bone to another inside your body, especially at your joints. Some of them are fairly stretchy and some aren't, depending a lot on their location and things like your general fitness level and age.

A sprain occurs when a joint is forced into an unnatural position. For example, if you step down off a curb that's higher than you thought it was, you can easily wrench your ankle and sprain a ligament.

Sprains can make a ligament swollen and tender, and result in joint pain, muscle pain, inflammation, tenderness, bruising and pain with movement, but it shouldn't take longer than 10 days to heal.

2. A strain can affect your muscles or tendons.

Tendons are what connect your muscles to your bones. A strain can affect either those muscles or the tendons, and they can result from a single movement or from constant, repetitive movements that add up over time.

Symptoms include muscle spasms, weakness, cramping, and difficulty moving the affected part of the body. An acute injury can take weeks to heal, but a chronic condition may lead to permanent damage called a repetitive motion disorder. These can require long-term treatment, physical therapy or even surgery to fix.

3. A tear can affect your ligaments, muscles, or tendons.

If any of the fibers in your ligaments, muscles or tendons actually rip, you've suffered a tear. A tear can take many months to heal -- often far longer than a broken bone. They can cause a lot of inflammation and pain, and some can require surgery to repair -- although most can be treated with physical therapy, medication and rest.

No matter which you think you are dealing with, it's important to file the proper notice of injury with your employer. That way, if the suspected sprain turns out to be a tear, workers' compensation will cover you.

If you're having trouble collecting workers' comp due to a sprain, strain, or tear that's laid you up, talk to an attorney today.

Source: www.newswise.com, "The Differences Between a Sprain, Strain and Tear," accessed March 21, 2017

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