Common Muscle Injuries : Muscle Strain Symptoms and Treatments

Muscle injuries or strains are conditions when there is some sort of injury to the muscle, ligaments, and tendons. This can occur due to several reasons such as stress, physical injury, improper posture during daily activities, and degenerative illnesses. Muscle injury can often be identified early and with proper medical intervention and physiotherapy care, normalcy can be restored.

What is a muscle injury?

Muscle injury is a large umbrella term for various forms of injury that occur to the muscle and its related parts. Some of the most common forms of injury are lacerations, contusions, and strains. While lacerations are a condition when there is a tear or cut by external objects such as physical injury, contusions occur when there is a sudden pressure or compression on the muscle resulting in tissue damage or internal injury. Strains on the other hand occur due to sudden and sharp movements that the muscles are unable to cope with.

Different Types of Muscle Injury

Muscle strains

This is one of the most common forms of muscle injury where the muscle fibers such as the tendons are put under stress resulting in the tearing of these. Some of the most common reasons for this are sudden movement or overstretching of the muscles, often a result of external movement.

Muscle contusion

Muscle contusions are often a result of a direct impact on the muscles that result in shock of the muscle and causes damage to the tissues. This can result in pain of varying degrees based on the injury to the tissues of the muscle. This is often caused by direct injuries such as direct contact with an object of force.

Muscle cramp

Another common form of muscle injury is cramped, which is caused due to sudden involuntary contraction of the muscles. These usually last anywhere from a few seconds to a few days, based on the intensity of the cramp. Cramps occur due to sudden stress on the muscles, dehydration, and even during times of relaxation. Cramps can be painful and render the part of the body motionless.

Muscle soreness

This is often found in people who engage in sudden and new practices of muscle movement that the body is not familiar with. It is often a grade 1 strain of the muscle with localized tenderness and pain. It is often followed by reduced movement, soreness, and pain that lasts a few days.

Symptom of Muscle Injury

It is easy to identify muscle injury symptoms as one of the most common symptoms is lasting pain in a particular region. Some of the other common symptoms are soreness in a region, limited movement range, bruising and discoloration, swelling, seething pain in the muscles when gentle pressure is applied on it, weakness, and even stiffness.

How to Diagnose a Muscle Injury

Since muscle injuries can be seen by the patient in most cases, a simple visual examination can help determine a muscle injury. While signs like bruising, lack of movement, and pain in the area are a few common markers to look out for, it is also important to get a few diagnostic tests done such as MRI and ultrasounds to understand the extent of damage to tendons and muscle tissues. A  doctor may ask you to perform a few exercises that determine the movement levels and pain levels to determine the extent of the injury.

When to Seek Medical Care for Muscle Injury

While most muscle injuries can be cared for with restriction of movements, pain relief balms, and over-the-counter medicine, it is important to keep track of the duration of the pain and intensity. Usually, muscles need good care to heal, as improper healing conditions can further complicate issues in the future. It is advisable to seek medical care when the pain has not receded in a few days, swelling and soreness are intense and there is no relief in general. It is also important to visit a doctor when the intensity of the injury is high and several parts of the body are affected. This will help prevent tissue degeneration.

If you are at risk for degenerative illnesses, it is advisable to seek medical help at the earliest and begin muscle injury treatment.

How can Physiotherapy Help in Muscle Injury?

Physiotherapy for muscle strain can be very useful in muscle injury recovery and is often used by elite athletes and professionals in tending to injuries. A professional physio will chart out a treatment plan after the initial assessment that is specific to the injury and the muscle that is injured. This is one of the more effective muscle strain treatment options.  

Heat and ice therapy can be followed based on the need, where heat can be given to improve the circulation of blood and reduce pain and heal the area. Ice packs can be used to reduce inflammation and stress on muscles.

Gentle muscle strain physical exercises related to the area can prevent the stiffness of muscle due to injury and improve mobility and flexibility. This is part of muscle pain physiotherapy. This can be followed by strengthening exercises that allow the muscle to recover and ensure that they are not prone to more injuries.

Muscle Injury: Phases of Repairing

The muscle repair process consists of several layers such as degeneration, inflammation, regeneration, and fibrosis. Fibrosis healing is often considered a good sign of the recovery of the muscle areas. These factors are dependent on the cell's capability to repair which are aided by genetics, medical history, nutrition, and muscle recovery procedures. Depending on the injury and site of injury, the duration of the repairs can vary from a few days to a few months.

The destruction phase is when the traumatized area of the muscle begins the necrosis of myofibers, which is then prevented by the lysosomal vesicles. This results in the inflammation of the area. This results in the process of cells removing the necrosed parts of the fibers

Repair and regeneration occur when the myofibers begin to regenerate and connective tissue begins to form at the site of injury, which is prone to further injury and is delicate. New capillaries originate from the other areas and begin to move towards the injured site, causing a recovery process. This is however defined by the health of the person, their medical history, and other forms of care that can impact the rate of recovery.

Bottom Line

Muscle injury does show a promising recovery rate. However, it is very important to ensure that such injuries do not repeat often and are cared for well. Physiotherapy is one of the most effective ways of handling this problem. Good exercise regimes with steady monitoring and rests can prevent muscle injury.