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Muscle strain: Symptoms and Treatment

Muscle distension occurs when the muscle stretches too much, resulting in the rupture of some muscle fibers or the entire tendon or muscle involved. This type of injury occurs more specifically in the tendon or at the muscle-tendon junction, which is the site of the union between the muscle and the tendon, near the joint.

The causes of muscle strain include excessive exertion to perform a muscle contraction during running, soccer game, volleyball or basketball for example, and so muscle stretching is very common in people who are preparing for a championship or during a competition, although it can also occur in ordinary people who require a great deal of effort from their muscles and joints on a day that decides to play ball with friends on a weekend, for example.

However, stretching can also happen in older people or in people who have repetitive movements and usually suffer from tendonitis.

Muscle strain: Symptoms and Treatment

Symptoms of a muscle strain

The main symptom is a strong pain located near a joint that arises after a trauma or after a run. In addition, the person may experience difficulty walking, when the leg is affected, or difficulty moving the arm when it is affected. Therefore, the characteristic signs of a muscular strain are:

  • Severe pain located near a joint;
  • Muscle weakness;
  • Difficulty of moving the region affected, being difficult to participate in a race or in the game, for example;
  • It can generate a large purple mark, characteristic of the extravasation of the blood;
  • The region tends to get swollen and can get a bit warmer than normal.

After observing these symptoms, you should stop the physical activity and immediately place an ice pack in the region to relieve the pain. If this does not subside and it is still not possible to move normally you should go to the doctor to perform imaging tests such as magnetic resonance or ultrasound, which help identify and classify the injury, according to its severity:

Stage 1 or Slight

There is a striation of the fibers but no rupture of the muscle or tendinous fibers. There is pain, that lessens after 1 week.

Stage 2 or Moderate

There is a small laceration in the muscle or tendon. The pain is more extensive, lasting from 1 to 3 weeks.

Stage 3 or Severe

The muscle or tendon suffers a total rupture. There is severe pain, bloating, swelling and warmth in the affected area.

In a severe muscle strain you can feel the rupture of the fibers palpating the region and the stretching of the affected muscle does not cause pain and with the ligament ruptured, the joint tends to become more unstable.

What to do if you suspect you have a muscle strain

If a muscle strain is suspected, you should  put an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel for approximately 20 minutes and seek medical attention because although the signs and symptoms can confirm the presence of a strain, the only way to confirm muscle or tendon rupture is through tests.

Treatment for muscle strain

The treatment is done with rest of the affected region, use of anti-inflammatory drugs like Cataflan in the form of ointment and / or Ibuprofen in pill form, that must be taken under medical supervision, being also indicated the use of cold patches or with ice 3 to 4 times a day up to 48 hours and physiotherapy sessions.

Physical therapy should be started as soon as possible to ensure that you return to your daily activities as quickly as possible.

How to avoid muscle strains

Stretching the muscle beyond your body's limit, or forcing a muscle too much, can easily generate a strain and cause muscle breakdown. Therefore, in order to prevent a muscle strain, you should keep the muscle duly strengthened and stretched constantly, respecting your bodily limitations and avoiding training alone, without professional guidance. However, even high-level athletes can experience stretches and muscle strains during their practice, but in any case, the goal of the training is to prevent this from happening.

Bibliography >

  • RAMOS, Gabriel Amorim; et al. Reabilitação nas lesões musculares dos isquiotibiais: revisão da literatura. Rev. bras. ortop. Vol.52. n.1; 11-16, 2017
  • ISRN ORTHOP. Treatment of Skeletal Muscle Injury: A Review. 2012. Available on: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4063193/pdf/ISRN.ORTHOPEDICS2012-689012.pdf>. Access in 30 May 2019
  • MAFFULLI, Nicola; et al. ISMuLT Guidelines for muscle injuries. Journal ListMuscles Ligaments Tendons. Vol.3. n.4; 241-249 , 2013
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