Muscle Strain Chiropractor | Levi Chiropractic

Sprains and strains

What is a joint sprain? A sprain is an injury to the joint, mostly caused by trauma and/or falls, involving the ligaments and capsules where they are stretched beyond their length. Ligaments support the joints to maintain correct positioning while allowing movement. However, they may overstretch and could even tear due to a sudden sharp, twisting or wrenching movement. A damaged ligament or joint capsule can cause instability in a joint. Symptoms may include pain, inflammation, and in some cases, the inability to move a limb (arm, leg, foot). Sprains occur when a joint is forced beyond its normal range of motion, such as turning or rolling your ankle. The most common joints affected are the ankles, wrists, knees and shoulders.

What is a muscle or tendon strain? Strains are injuries that involve the stretching or tearing of a musculo-tendon (muscle and tendon) structure. An acute (instant or recent) strain of the musculo-tendon structure occurs at the junction where the muscle is becoming a tendon. These strains take place when a muscle is stretched and suddenly contracts, as with running or jumping. This type of injury is frequently seen in runners who strain their hamstrings. Many times the injury will occur suddenly while the runner is in full stride. Symptoms for an acute muscle strain may include pain, swelling, bruising, muscle spasm, loss of strength, and limited range of motion.
Chronic (long-lasting) strains are injuries that gradually build up from overuse or repetitive stress, resulting in tendonitis (inflammation of a tendon). For example, a tennis player may get (tennis elbow) tendonitis in his or her forearm-shoulder as the result of constant stress from repeated serves, typing, assembly-line work, and knee strain from going upstairs are just a few of the conditions we treat.

Severity of sprains and strains
A physician categorizes sprains and strains according to severity. A Grade I (mild) sprain or strain involves some stretching or minor tearing of a ligament or muscle. A Grade II (moderate) sprain or strain is a ligament or muscle that is partially torn but still intact. A Grade III (severe) sprain or strain means that the ligament or muscle is completely torn, resulting in joint instability. Whiplash is a form of sprain and strain.

Whiplash=Sprain + Strain

Causes of Sprains and strains


These include any injury that causes the ligaments, muscles and tendons to become over stretched and pull beyond their length.
The following are a few examples:

  • Ankle. Walking or exercising on an uneven surface, rolling the ankle
  • Knee. Pivoting during an athletic activity ie: twisting the knee while playing soccer
  • Wrist. Landing on an outstretched hand during a fall
  • Whiplash
  • Car crash injuries
  • Reaching overhead to get an object
  • Lifting a heavy object
  • Thumb. Skiing or playing racquet sports, such as tennis


There are two types of strains: acute and chronic. An acute strain occurs when a muscle becomes strained or pulled — or may even tear — when it stretches unusually far or abruptly. Acute strains often occur in the following ways:

  • Slipping on ice
  • Running, jumping or throwing
  • Lifting a heavy object or lifting in an awkward position
  • A chronic strain results from prolonged, repetitive movement of a muscle. This may occur on the job or during sports, such as:
  • Gymnastics
  • Tennis
  • Rowing
  • Golf


Signs and symptoms will vary, depending on the severity of the injury.


  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Limited ability to move the affected joint
  • At the time of injury, you may hear or feel a “pop” in your joint


  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Muscle spasms
  • Limited ability to move the affected muscle
  • Bruising