What’s The Difference Between Sprain And A Tear?

Sprain Accidents happen. What’s unfortunate is when they become injuries. Aside from the physical pain, eventually, the annoyance of having your daily life disrupted becomes the main issue. Depending on the severity of your injury, how long you need to recover for, and just how disruptive your recovery is to your daily life can all be impacted. Sprains, for example, are relatively benign injuries when compared to something more traumatic as a bone break. However, tears, on the other hand, can take even longer for recovery. While, typically, sprains may put you out of commission for a shorter amount of time than a tear, you may be surprised to learn about their differences. If you’ve been recently injured, you may be wondering what the difference is between a sprain and a tear. Keep reading to find you!


A sprain is a stretching of ligaments in a joint. Sprains have three grades when assessing their severity. Grade 1 is a slight stretching with some nominal damage to the ligament fibers. Grade 1 can be considered a mild sprain that will take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to heal. There may be some minor swelling and tenderness and, though not recommended, you may be able to ‘force’ yourself through the injury. Grade 2 sprains can be considered moderate sprains where the ligament is more injured with greater damage. Movement is difficult at this point and recovery can take more than a few weeks. Grade 3 are severe sprains where the ligament is torn completely. The injury has incredible pain even when there is no usage being administered to the injured area. Recovery can take months even with physical therapy and sometimes surgery is required.


If you were reading carefully, you’ll remember that Grade 3 sprains are tears! The difference between a sprain and a tear is non-existent. Tears are a very severe form of sprain. As mentioned before, they can take months even with surgery and physical therapy to properly heal. One of the tell-tale signs of a ligament tear, or even a muscular tear, is the noise. In a ligament tear, most people report hearing a ‘pop’ sound, while with muscle tears some report hearing a sound similar to a zipper being undone or also a ‘pop’ noise.

Worried You Have A Sprain?

The healthcare professionals at Summit Orthopaedics are ready to help you. Our team strives to provide the best results and care possible. Call us today at 503-850-9940 to schedule an appointment today! The road to recovery may be long or short, but you shouldn’t go it alone! Let us help!


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