Sprains and Strains: Signs and Symptoms

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Recognizing muscle pain from sprains and strains1

The signs and symptoms of sprains and strains will vary in severity, but identification is paramount to initiate the right treatment.

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Signs and symptoms1,2

Both sprains and strains cause pain, inflammation and swelling.

  • Symptoms of a sprain occur around the affected joint and can also include bruising, loss of the ability to move (functional ability), and mechanical instability if severe
  • Symptoms of a strain affect the injured muscle and can include spasm, weakness, cramping, and loss of muscle function if severe

Symptom severity depends on both the severity of the injury and the time since the injury took place – it can take up to 24 hours for bruising and swelling to become apparent.2

  • Questions to ask your patient

    Regardless of location on the body, some questions could help narrow down the scope of the injury:3,4

    • Does the area feel weak or stiff?
    • Is there any swelling or restricted movement?
    • How did the particular injury occur?
    • Is this a part of body routinely used for repetitive motion?
    • If it’s a lower extremity, can they bear weight?
    • Is there any history of injury in the area?
    • Is the pain local or does it radiate?
  • When to refer your patient for further care

    The patient should be immediately referred to an emergency department if any of the following is suspected:2

    • Fracture
    • Dislocation
    • Damage to nerves or circulation
    • Tendon rupture
    • Wound penetrating the joint
    • Known bleeding disorder
    • Signs of septic arthritis (e.g. fever, joint swollen and warm to touch) or hemarthrosis (joint is very painful and swollen immediately after injury)
    • A large intramuscular hematoma
    • A complete tear, or a tear of more than half of the muscle belly

Meet Ben and Nicholas



Ben, 32, balances the demands of his fulltime job with taking care of his two young children.

He enjoys going to the gym or exercising outdoors and loves nothing more than playing with his children. The last thing he needs is pain from a sprain or strain affecting his life.

Unfortunately, Ben has recently sustained a muscle injury while running, which means he struggles to do the things he loves. Ben is struggling to work and take care of his children.

Ben wants effective pain relief and fast recovery. Advil® DUAL ACTION uses two active ingredients to fight pain together.

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Nicholas, age 35, is an ambitious guy. During the week, he holds down a professional position in an office – but sports are his real passion: his free time revolves around it, after work and for a considerable part of his weekend, both playing and watching.

Nicholas has recently strained a muscle that he has injured several times before, and recovery is taking longer than it did in the past. This means he is having to stick to the sidelines because he is in pain, which is making him frustrated.

Nicholas needs a solution that offers effective pain relief and fast recovery. Advil® DUAL ACTION provides fast, long lasting pain relief, so Nicholas can get on with his life.5

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Understanding Sprains and Strains

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Find out about the causes of sprains and strains.

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Learn how muscle pain from sprains and strains should be managed.

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Overview of Sprains & Strains

Find out more about sprains and strains.

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ADVIL® DUAL ACTION with acetaminophen

Advil® DUAL ACTION is a fixed-dose of both ibuprofen (250 mg) and acetaminophen (500 mg) that fights pain in two ways.

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Drug Facts and Dosing

Advil® DUAL ACTION Drug Facts and Dosing

The drug facts contain all you need to know about the drug, as well as NSAID and acetaminophen warnings.

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Advil® DUAL ACTION contains two active ingredients—ibuprofen and acetaminophen—both of which have a well-known and established safety profile.

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