Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Sprains and strains

1-minute read

A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament, which is the tissue that connects bones at a joint. Falling, twisting, or getting hit can all cause a sprain. Common areas are the ankle and wrist, and symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising and being unable to move the joint.

A strain is a stretched or torn muscle or tendon, which is tissue that connects muscle to bone. Twisting or pulling these tissues can cause a strain, which can happen suddenly or develop over time. Back and hamstring muscle strains are common, and a lot of people get strains playing sports. Symptoms include pain, muscle spasms, swelling and trouble moving the muscle.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists, Australian College of Nursing and Australian Physiotherapy Association recommends that X-rays are not necessary for all ankle injuries. Discuss with your doctor whether you will need an X-ray. For further information, visit the Choosing Wisely Australia website.

Follow the links below to find trusted information about sprains and strains

Last reviewed: October 2016

Recommended links

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

First aid for sprains and strains

Information about managing and treating sprains and strains.

Read more on WA Health website

Strains and sprains: self-care -

Strains and sprains, or soft tissue injuries, are common through playing sports and in everyday life. Find out what products are available for strains and sprains.

Read more on myDr website


How to take care of a sprain.

Read more on WA Health website

Ankle sprain -

Ankle sprain is damage to the ankle ligaments caused by a single sudden incident. A serious sprain may involve partial of complete tear of a ligament.

Read more on myDr website

Office Ergonomics: Tips for Preventing Muscle Strain | myVMC

Tips for preventing muscle strain in the office: Muscle strain in the office has many contributors, such as the small repetitive movements used when operating a computer workstation. Here are some tips on preventing muscle strain in your office.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Building Better Relationships

Military life can place many strains on relationships.

Read more on Department of Veterans' Affairs website

Posture - Musculoskeletal Australia (MSK)

Posture refers to the correct alignment and positioning of your body. With good posture your body is arranged so no structure is overstressed or strained.

Read more on Musculoskeletal Australia website


Constipation is when you have difficulty passing stools (poo), need to strain when going to the toilet or have infrequent bowel movements.

Read more on WA Health website

Managing Daily Life

Providing physical and emotional care for a person when they are seriously ill is demanding. Remember that family members and friends, including neighbours, often want to help.

Read more on CareSearch website

Wrist tenosynovitis (tendonitis; washerwoman's sprain) | myVMC

De Quervain's tenosynovitis is a painful form of tendonitis affecting the wrist . It occurs when repetitive thumb movements damage tendons of the hand.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo