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When diagnosing a sprain or strain, your doctor will ask how you injured yourself and examine the affected area. An X-ray may be needed in severe cases.
Your doctor will want to know about treatments you've already tried, as well as any medication you're currently taking that could affect the injury, such as anticoagulants (medication that reduces the blood's clotting ability).
The affected joint or muscle will be examined to assess the severity of your injury. Your doctor will check for:
They'll also assess how much you can move the injured joint or muscle and whether you're able to put your weight on it.
If you have a severe sprain, your doctor may check whether the ligaments are loose. This is sometimes called joint instability, mechanical instability or ligamentous laxity.
You won't usually need to have an X-ray if you have a sprain or strain unless:
An X-ray may also be recommended if you're over 55 years of age and have injured your knee as you're at increased risk of bone fracture after this type of injury.