Muscle Injuries (From muscle pull to strain)
1. What is causing the pain and how did I get it?
Muscles strain can be divided into grade 1 to 3 (where 1 is considered mild and 3 is severe) Mild muscle strain can occur when we overwork them, or overstretch the muscles during a particular activity. In grade 1 strain, some muscles fibres are stretched beyond their usual length and it takes up to 2 weeks for the muscle to recover. In moderate to severe strain, muscles tissues are torn internally. The pain is excruciating and bruises may appear. Your movements will be limited and you should see a doctor immediately. The most common muscle injury is to the hamstrings, adductors (groin muscles), calf muscles.
The typical soreness that you experienced after a hard gym work out is called delayed onset muscles soreness (DOMs). It is common to feel the soreness after 24 hours and it usually takes a few days to settle. If your pain does not settle, then you may have suffered a muscle strain. There is also another type of muscle injury called trigger points. Trigger points are focal and specific area of tightness within a muscle group. Trigger points are usually only painful when you massage on them. They can potentially cause injury to the joints closer to the area. Trigger point release will be taught to patients if they are found to be a cause of your injuries
2. How can physiotherapy help?
Physiotherapy is most useful in grade 1 and 2 strain. The physiotherapy treatment will cover the followings:
- Trigger point release technique
- Shockwave therapy to release muscles
- Stretching and reconditioning exercises
In grade 3 strain / tear, physiotherapy will commence after the muscle has heal (about 4 to 6 weeks). The treatment will cover the followings:
- Manual therapy technique to reduce internal scarring of the muscles
- Stretching programme
- Strengthening and reconditioning exercises (this stage is the most important, failure to get back the muscle strength will unfortunately result in re-injury)
3. How can I help?
Like any injuries, it is important to recognise the severity of the injuries, if your typical muscle soreness does not settle in a few days, then it may be a muscle strain. Seek help immediately. Go through the entire rehabilitation. Muscle strain can recur because the injured muscles has not fully regain its flexibility and strength.
4. How long will it take to recover? (ie. prognosis)
Grade 1: 2 to 3 weeks
Grade 2: 3 to 6 weeks
Grade 3: 3 months