Sprains and Strains

A sprain is a stretch or tear in a ligament, the bands of fibrous tissue that connect our bones at the joints. A strain is also a stretch or tear, but it affects the muscle itself or a tendon, which is the tissue that connects the muscles to the bones. The severity of a sprain or ligament tear is graded a 1, 2 or 3; the more serious injuries are graded higher, and a grade 3 signifies that a ligament is not in continuity, says Dr. John A. Schlechter, CHOC Pediatric Orthopedic Specialist and Orthopedic Surgeon. “If you have a bad sprain it can almost be worse than a broken bone in terms of swelling.” It’s best to have these injuries checked by a doctor and get an X-ray, he says.


“The most commonly injured ligament for children and adults is probably the lateral ankle ligament, which is a typical sprained ankle,” says Dr. Schlechter. “If you tear the ACL which is the main stabilizing ligament of the knee, that’s a big issue often requiring surgery. Gymnasts often sprain wrists too, and contact athletes can get shoulder problems.”


“Most of the time these injuries can be treated with what we call PRICE: Protection from bracing, splinting or casting; Rest; Ice; Compression and Elevation,” says Dr. Schlechter. “Surgery might be needed for a major ligament in a major joint such as the knee. The next step after PRICE can be getting the patient back to sports with a physical therapist and perhaps an athletic brace when they return to activity.”

Meet Dr. Schlechter - Pediatric Orthopedic Specialist and Orthopedic Surgeon

Dr. John A. Schlechter is a board-certified pediatric orthopedic surgeon whose practice focuses on sports medicine and fracture care for children and adolescents. Dr. Schlechter completed his orthopedic surgery residency at Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Moreno Valley. He completed a pediatric orthopedic and scoliosis fellowship at Children’s Hospital San Diego and a preceptorship in sports medicine and arthroscopy at the Orthopedic Specialty Institute in Orange. Dr. Schlechter is a member of the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America and the Arthroscopy Association of North America. He has authored several peer-reviewed articles and has contributed to various textbooks.

Dr. Schlechter’s philosophy of care: “I try to keep the young athlete engaged in their treatment plan and understanding their condition.”

New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, Old Westbury, New York

Orthopedic Surgery

Dr. John Schlechter

Improving an Athlete’s Mental Game

With the school year and spring sports season winding down, now’s the time when young athletes might need an extra edge over their competition. Additional drills and practices can help, but so does increased mental motivation.

Boy soccer player bouncing ball on his knee

Preventing Sports Injuries

Originally aired May 16, 2014 – Taking part in sports and physical activities is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for kids. In this segment of American Health Journal, Dr. John Schlechter and Mollee Smith, CHOC, speak about preventive measures that can be taken to prevent injuries while taking part in sports and physicial activities.

Knowledge is the best medicine. Learn more about your child's health in these features from the experts at CHOC.

Having Asthma as an Athlete
Kids with asthma may experience these symptoms particularly during or after exercise. However, children with asthma who are well managed usually have very little difficulty with exercise.

Identifying Sudden Cardiac Issues in Young Athletes
Young athletes that suffer sudden cardiac arrest usually have an inherited condition that tends to run in families. Learn what to look for in this health feature.

Kids and Common Sports Injuries
One of the most common sports injuries in children is from chronic repetitive stress. It is usually at the elbow, the wrist, the ankle, the knee or the foot.

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