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Ligaments are strong flexible tissues that connect bones and keep joints in position. A sprain can tear ligament fibers partially or completely. They can swell quickly and be very painful. Ankles and knees are the most common sprain locations. A strain can tear a part or all of the muscle fibers and tendons attached to the muscle. Muscle strains are common in the lower back, neck, shoulder, and the muscle behind your thigh, also called the hamstring. You may feel a little stiff or if it is a severe strain, the pain may be great and movement may be very limited.