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A sprain is a stretch or tear of a ligament - the band of connective tissues that joins the end of one bone to another. Sprains are usually caused by a fall or blow that knocks a joint out of place and, in some cases, tears the supporting ligaments. Sprains also can be caused by twisting the ligament. Ankles, knees, wrists and sometimes backs and shoulders are the parts of your body you are most likely to sprain.