In modern sportsmedicine parlance, a sprain is any sort of trauma sustained to a ligament or capsular structure that results in stretched, torn or completely avulsed tissues.

There are three types of sprain:

  • First degree
  • : This sprain is the most common, usually only stretching the fibers of the ligament/capsule or tearing very few of them. This type of sprain results in a low level of pain, with little discoloration, swelling and loss of Range of Motion. There is little if any loss of stability.
  • Second degree
  • : The tearing of about half of the fibers in a ligament or joint capsule. Results in moderate amounts of pain, tenderness, discoloration and loss of ROM & stability.
  • Third degree
  • : The complete tearing of a ligament or capsule. This type of injury results in severe pain, point tenderness and discoloration. There is a major loss of stability and ROM is severely impaired in most cases.

Most people tend to think of a strain only in terms of a stretched ligament. I have seen good athletic trainers tell a person who is flipping out because he knows he just tore something tell him that its "just a sprain". Words can have an amazingly calming effect, especially when used with that knowledge.

Sprain (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Sprained (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Spraining.] [OF. espreindreto press, to force out, F. 'epreindre, fr. L. exprimere. See Express, v. t., and cf. Spraints.]

To weaken, as a joint, ligament, or muscle, by sudden and excessive exertion, as by wrenching; to overstrain, or stretch injuriously, but without luxation; as, to sprain one's ankle.


© Webster 1913.

Sprain, n.

The act or result of spraining; lameness caused by spraining; as, a bad sprain of the wrist.

Sprain fracture Med., the separation of a tendon from its point of insertion, with the detachment of a shell of bone to which the tendon is attached.


© Webster 1913.

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