Sprains and strains: Causes

Man holding leg

Understand how sprains and strains occur

Knowing the causes of sprains and strains can help you identify these injuries, and therefore guide you to the most appropriate treatment for your patient.

Man with elbow pain

Sprains and strains have specific causes

Soft-tissue injury involves a sprain, strain or direct blow to a muscle, tendon and/or ligament.1

  • Sprains are caused by abnormal or excessive force applied to a joint1,2
  • Strains occur when a muscle is stretched beyond its limit or has contracted too strongly1,2
  • Overuse injuries, from repetitive friction, pulling, twisting or compression may also occur1
Man playing tennis

Sport is a common cause of sprains and strains, but not the only one

Soft-tissue injuries are common in sport.1,2 Indeed, muscle strains or overuse injuries account for around 50% of all injuries suffered during sport.3,4

However, these injuries can also occur through simple, everyday activities like over-stretching, tripping and falling or playing with the kids.2,3

Risk factors for sprains and strains

Understanding sprains and strains

Signs and symptoms icon

Signs and symptoms

Explore an overview of how to recognise sprains and strains and when to refer patients.


Management icon


Learn how sprains and strains can be managed.


Joint and OA pain

Overview of joint pain

Find out about joint pain and meet two patients with joint pain.


Learn more

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