A Strain is an injury to the fibers of a muscle or tendon while a sprain is an injury to a ligament. The muscles contract (get shorter) and relax (get longer) to cause movement. An example would be the contraction of the biceps (located on the front of the upper arm) and a relaxation of the triceps (located on the back of the upper arm). This produces a bend at the elbow. The contraction of the triceps and relaxation of the biceps produces the effect of straightening the arm. Any of these components can be injured by trauma causing joint, tendon, and muscle problems. Pain is the main symptom of strains and sprains. The pain may be dull, sharp, and may be mild to severe; pain may be immediate, as it is with most injuries.
Overtraining or acute injuries incurred in sports can cause a muscle strain. Tense musculature in patients with a lack of flexability can also predispose you to this injury. Stretching before an form of physical activity is important to prevent strains and sprains from happening.
Most strains are often managed pharmaceutically with medications that reduce pain and inflammation.
Other natural alternatives to medication include therapies such as laser therapy, IMS (intramuscular stimulation) and medical acupuncture with electro-stimulation, massage, active release therapy and hydrotherapy techniques.
Natural anti-inflammatory remedies can also be helpful in managing the pain and rehabilitation exercises or work modifications are also important to help prevent further injury.