Sprain Vs. Tear: Know The Difference

Sprains and tears are two terms that are wrongly used interchangeably by a lot of people. The problem with doing this is that terming an injury wrongly might result in the wrong treatment. This can end up causing a bigger issue for the affected person. In this article, we will explain the difference between tears and sprains.

Sprains and Tears: What Do They Have In Common?

Sprains and tears share certain similarities which is why they are often used wrongly. The first similarity between sprains and tears is that they are both common injuries suffered by sportsmen. While other people also suffer from sprains and tears, it is closely associated with sportsmen. In addition, sprains and tears are injuries that affect the ligaments. This similarity explains why a lot of people use the terms interchangeably.

Difference Between Sprains and Tears

In this section, we will break down what sprains and tears are, in order to make a clear distinction between them.

What is a Sprain?

A sprain is an injury that affects the ligament. The ligament is a connective tissue that joins connect bones together. As such, ligaments hold joints together, giving a person better stamina and stability. A sprain occurs when a ligament within the body gets torn or overstretched, as a result of a fall, impact or a twist to the joint.  Common symptoms of a sprain include inflammation and swelling, bruising, localized pain, limited range of motion as well as a hearing a “pop” sound in your joints. Depending on the severity of the injury, sprains have a healing period that varies from a few days to several weeks. There are different types of sprains with varying healing periods. These are:

– Mild Sprain: This occurs when a ligament is stretched without affecting the joint. The joint stays intact in this case.

– Moderate Sprain: A moderate sprain occurs when a ligament is partially torn. However, the ligament is still attached to some part of the bone. This often causes the joint to be unstable.

– Severe Sprain: Severe sprain occurs when the ligament is fully torn and separated from the joint. This results in dislocation of the joint.

What is a Tear?

A tear refers to the ripping of a ligament, muscle or tendon. Unlike sprain which affects only the ligaments, a tear can occur in muscles and tendons too. Tears are usually more severe than sprains. Minor tears usually take several weeks to heal, while serious tears can take up to several months. As a matter of fact, some tears might require surgery. Symptoms of a tear include feeling a loose joint after injury, bruising, inability to move the affected joint, serious pain, and hearing a “pop” sound when the injury occurs.


Whether you suffered from a sprain or tear, you need medical attention in order to treat your injury properly. Contact an orthopaedic surgeon in Adelaide to get the best treatment and care, in order to get better in no time.

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