About Muscle Strain
Muscle strain (muscle pull) is an injury that leads to damage of the muscle fibers. The attaching tendons can be damaged as well. Muscle strain is considered a common injury. Muscle strain is frequent among athletes. It can also occur while performing even the simplest daily activities, is associated with sudden and quick movements, lifting heavy objects and performing work tasks.
Muscle strain leads to tearing of muscle fibers and damage to small blood vessels. This consequently results in minor bleeding into the muscle, irritation and swelling. Pain develops as a consequence of edema and irritation of the nerve endings in the injured area.
This injury typically features with swelling, bruising and redness of the skin. Pain may be present at rest or only occurs if the muscle is used. Weakness of the injured muscle is also present.
Patients who have had muscle strain are examined by the doctor. By performing a physical exam the doctor can determine whether the injured muscle is partially or completely torn. Differentiation of the two is essential because the very treatment depends on the extent of the injury.
Therapy for Muscle Strain
Muscle strain is not a serious injury and all patients recover completely after a certain period of time. The extent of swelling and local bleeding can be significantly reduced if the person applies ice packs and places the injured muscle in a stretched position as soon as the injury occurs. Ice packs cause constriction of blood vessels hence they reduce bleeding and they also reduce extravasation of fluid in the space between muscle fibers. One should pay attention and never place the ice directly onto the skin. It is essential to use a protective covering such as towel.
Inflammation and its consequences, pain and swelling, are well-controlled with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The injured part of the body should be elevated. By elevating the injured part of the body swelling reduces with the assistance of the force of gravity.
All patients must have sufficient amount of rest. This particularly refers to athletes who tend to return to their activities as soon as they start feeling better. They are sometimes not aware that if the muscle did not heal properly its function can be severely damaged by putting it under additional stress.
Some patients may require crutches or a brace which are used during the entire recovery time. Finally, one may need to engage in a rehabilitation program and start with exercises that will help restore muscle strength and all movement in the injured area.