Muscle train in plain and simple words could either be muscle pull or a muscle tear. This means that either the muscle or its attaching tendons have been damaged.
This could happen due to many reasons such as undue pressure on the muscles during day to day activities such as heavy lifting, sporting activities and even when performing simple tasks. Muscle damage could be because of tearing of part or all of muscle fibers and the tendons attached to the muscles.
Such tearing can damage the small blood vessels causing bruises or local bleeding. Pain usually occurs because of the irritation to the nerve ends in the area.
See also: How To Treat Torn Muscles?
Muscle Strain Symptoms
There are a number of symptoms which could be attributable to muscle strain a few of which are given hereunder:
- Bruising, redness or swelling and even open cuts because of injury.
- Pain while even at rest or when specific muscle or joints are used.
- Muscle or tendon weakness.
- Inability to use the muscle totally.
When to Call Your Doctor?
If you have the slightest doubt that you are suffering from muscle injury you should call your doctor. As a benchmark rule, you should see a doctor if home remedies do not give relief even after 24 hours. If there is a “popping” sound which prevents you from walking and moving your muscles and joints freely, you should immediately visit any hospital’s emergency department.
Muscle Strain Tests and Exams
Tests and exams are the starting points for the doctors towards diagnosing the problem and the actual extent of damage. Such examination will reveal whether the muscle is partially or completely torn. Complete tear of muscles take a lot of time to heal and a surgery may also be required. X-rays and tests may not be needed unless there is evidence of infection or trauma.
Read also: Symptoms and Treatment for Hamstring Strain
Muscle Strain Treatment
There are some time tested home self-care methods which could help in reducing swelling and local bleeding. Applying of ice packs and keeping the strained muscle in a stretched position are some useful home care techniques that could be tried out. If the swelling has lessened, you could also apply heat on the affected area. You should never apply heat or cold on bare skin and should use a towel as a shield between the heat and the skin.
- You could also go in for some painkillers, preferably NSAIDS, i.e. non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin which could help in reducing pain significantly. However, if you suffer from any gastrointestinal diseases or kidney diseases you should avoid these NSAIDs. Even if you are on a blood thinner diet you should be careful about taking these NSAIDs. There are some alternate drugs which reduces pain without exposing your to side effects.
- Understanding the importance of PRICE formula (protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation) is crucial as a first aid before you visit a doctor or hospital for further evaluation and treatment. Removing all constrictive clothing around the muscle strain area is very important. Once this is done steps should be taken to prevent further injury to the affected muscle. Giving adequate rest to the strained or damage muscle is also very important.
- Icing the strained muscle area 20 minutes in each hour is also highly recommended. Ice as we all know is an extremely effective anti inflammatory agent and also a good pain reliever. Frozen vegetable packs, frozen water in foam coffee cups when applied to the affected area could work wonders.
- Compression can also be useful when it is done with an elastic bandage. This provides both supports apart from helping reduce swelling. Tight wrapping should be avoided. Keeping the injured area in an elevated surface can help a lot in reducing swelling. If the leg muscles are strained or injured, you could prop up the legs in an elevated position even though you could be sitting.
Medical treatment provided by the doctors is similar to what is provided in the home. The only difference is that the doctor would be better equipped and qualified the extent of damage or strain. He would also be able to decide whether braces or crutches are required for faster healing. He is also the right person to decide whether you need to take rest and be off from your work for healing of the stress or injury.
Once your muscle or tendon strain has been healed you should prevent recurrence by stretching daily especially after exercise and follow some suggested warm up exercises before starting the main workouts. In a majority of the cases, complete cure is almost a certainty except for very complicated cases where surgical intervention may be necessary.