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 3 ligaments involved in ankles sprains or strains include the following:

  • Anterior talofibular ligament
  • Posterior talofibular ligament
  • Calcaneofibular ligament
Illustration demonstrating the three ligaments involved in ankle sprains/strains

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.

Prevention & Risk Treatment

Prevention & Risk Treatment

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 or tear 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.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis

How is a sprain or strain diagnosed?

Your adolescent's doctor makes the diagnosis with a physical examination. During the examination, the doctor obtains a complete medical history of your adolescent and asks how the injury occurred.
Diagnostic procedures may also help evaluate the problem. Diagnostic procedures may include:

  • X-rays. A diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
  • Computed tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan). A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.
Children's Team

Children's Team

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Departments

Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine

Our orthopaedic experts provide advanced care for children and teens with orthopaedic conditions and sports injuries.

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