Sprains and Strains


Lead Author(s): 

Jaimo Ahn, MD, PhD, FACS
Arvind D Nana, MD
Gudrun Mirick, MD
Anna N Miller, MD, FACS

Supporting Author(s): 

Sylvia I Watkins-Castillo, PhD

Sprains and strains are the most common musculoskeletal injuries treated in any healthcare facility. In 2013, one in five (26%) musculoskeletal injuries treated in a healthcare facility was for a sprain or strain, with 1 in 18 persons in the population receiving care for a sprain or strain. (Reference Table 5B.2.1 PDF CSV) Sprains and strains occur on a wide continuum of severity, and while mild sprains can be successfully treated at home, severe sprains sometimes require surgery to repair torn ligaments.

In 2013, sprains and strains of the back and sacroiliac joint comprised nearly one-third (30%, 7.1 million treatment episodes) of all sprains and strains for which healthcare treatment was given. Most were seen in a physician’s office (71%), with nearly all the remaining persons seen in an emergency department. Approximately 11,000 sprains and strains of the back and sacroiliac joint required hospitalization. Slightly more than 5 million sprains and strains of the shoulder and upper arm were seen by healthcare providers, as were 4.2 million sprains and strains of the ankle and foot. All totaled, more than 24 million persons with sprains and strains received medical care for these injuries in 2013. (Reference Table 5B.6.1 PDF CSV)

When evaluated by age, in 2013 more sprains and strains were treated in persons aged 18 to 44 years than other age groups, followed by the 45 to 64 years of age group. Although there is some difference by sex, overall sprain and strain injury treatments reflect the distribution of male and female individuals in the population. The one exception is the 58% of hospital treatment for sprains and strains of the knee and leg which affect more male individuals. (Reference Table 5B.6.2 PDF CSV)


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