A strain is a term used to describe a condition where the tendon has either been overused briefly, or it has been over-stretched!

Sprain refers to the over-stretching of the ligaments which hold your arm onto your shoulder blade.

Both can occur with the same event which causes the condition with each.

Below are the symptoms common to the strain of a tendon and a sprain of a ligament. Some of them may be similar.

Strain (Tendon)

  • Vague ache but can’t locate it exactly.
  • Burning sensation when either at work or rest.
  • Pain when using the muscle it is attached to.
  • Pain when stretching the muscle it is attached to.
  • Pain when touching the tendon.
  • A sensation of numbness in the local area.
  • A rough patch of skin over top the region.

Sprain (Ligament)

  • Sharp pain when stretching the joint.
  • Sharp pain when using the joint and muscles attached.
  • Weird sensations coming from the region.
  • Swelling in the region.
  • A rough patch of skin overtop the region.
  • Pain during the day when active but none when at rest.

The most common cause for a strain/sprain of a tendon and ligament of a joint is usually due to a fall. Below are a few of the most common causes for a strain/sprain injury of the shoulder

  • Falling backward and reaching back with your arms to stop the fall
  • About to fall off a structure and reach out to grasp and hold yourself from falling, as up a ladder or on a roof.
  • Shoulder being whipped as in holding a large dog on a leash and it suddenly takes off in a different direction.
  • Using too much weight when performing an exercise at the gym with free weights.
  • Reaching out to grab something and another person accidentally hits your arm forcing it either backward, or upwards.

What Really is Happening?
Basically, tendons and ligaments do not stretch! They are not elastic like muscle fibres. Tendons are simply the body’s version of a steel cable, which attaches a muscle to a bone.

A ligament is simply a thin sheet of tissue which completely wraps a joint, attaching to both bones of that joint. Its job is to stop any excessive movements which may damage the bones of the joint.

Overstretching the joint in a posture beyond what it is designed to move through will place direct pressure on both the tendon and ligament of the joint. If this abnormal position is not reached under an extreme force, then no damage will occur to either the tendon or ligament as they are quite strong and can offer some resistance.

If however, that force is way too strong for either to handle, then fibres in both the tendons and ligaments will be forced to stretch. These fibres will stretch approximately 3% before potentially beginning to fray or micro tear. A strain/sprain occurs within this 3% of the fibres in each structure.

You have tiny receptors built-in to both your tendons and ligaments to report the amount of pressure on both a tendon and ligament. The pain you feel is a result of these receptors having been activated due to the lengthening of the fibres within each. With time the fibres will return to their original length and the receptors will cease to send signals to your brain.

What Treatments Consist Of:
Treating a strain/sprain injury is extremely easy and quick. We use shockwave therapy to remove any inflammation within either the tendon or ligament fibres. In some situations, the fibres of either structure may have become disorganized or moved into an incorrect direction due to the force on them. These fibres are once again returned to their normal alignment.

Since both the tendon and ligament affected are not damaged excessively, there is usually very minimal discomfort in treatment. Typically 1 or 2 treatments is all that is required to correct the tissues in both the tendon and ligament. You should see a decrease in pain after your first treatment.

If you are interested in scheduling a consultation/assessment, please contact us at your convenience: