Monday, September 23, 2013

Pulled Muscle Treatment

Before knowing pulled muscle treatments, let us take a look at some basic information about muscles. Limbs have the maximum number of muscles in our body, which is over 300. It is important to work our muscles regularly because they give us shape and firmness. Muscles are elastic in nature and hence have a tendency to slack. Regular exercises and stretching not only keep us flexible, but also give us strength. If the muscles are not habitually worked and are loaded suddenly, it results in a muscle pull or a strained muscle. A muscle pull is a painful injury to the muscle which is very sudden and instantaneous in nature. It is commonly cited in sports persons, especially athletes. Soccer, basketball, gymnastics, lawn tennis players, etc., are also prone to a muscle pull/strain.

Muscles are held to our bones by tendons and help us move. Bones move when a tendon is pulled on muscle contraction. As is commonly misunderstood, there is a difference between a muscle pull/strain and a muscle sprain. Although both cause muscle pain, sprains and strains are two different things. A 'muscle pull/strain' is caused when the tendons in the muscles tear partially or completely. A 'sprain' is an injury to the ligaments in the muscles in terms of over stretching or tearing. Ligaments are thick, fibrous and tough tissues that connect the bones together and gives us normal alignment in the body. Ligament injuries are commonly seen in ankle, wrist, and knee joints. However, the reason behind a muscle pull and sprained muscle are the same. Hamstring injury is the most commonly occurring muscle pull, and is closely followed by pulled neck muscle and pulled back muscle. Muscle pulls are also found in the groin, finger, wrists, elbow (tennis elbow - lateral epicondylitis and golfer's elbow - medial epicondylitis), ankle (achilles tendonitis) and knees. Apart from pulled calf muscle in the leg, the anterior cruciate ligament, which is one of the four major knee ligaments, is very susceptible to injury too.

Pulled Muscle Causes
Muscle pull/strain happens due to a blow, twisting, pulling or over exertion of the tendons. There can be many reasons behind what causes muscle spasms. The one behind muscle pull is that the lactic acid builds up in the muscles if they are not oxygenated and dehydrated. It decreases the muscle strength and coordination. A fatigued and over strained muscle is more likely to tear, which can be traumatic and acute. Improper lifting of heavy objects or over stressing the muscles can also be a reason of a pulled muscle. Prolonged, repetitive movements of the muscles and tendons result in chronic muscle pulls.

Pulled Muscle Symptoms
Let us know the symptoms of a muscle pull before we learn how to heal a pulled muscle. Experiencing pain when they move, muscle spasms, muscle weakness, localized inflammation are the main pulled muscle symptoms. In a severe condition, people may experience some loss of muscle function along with excruciating muscle pain and restricted movement. Pointers of knowing when you have a strained muscle are as follows:
  • Repeated muscle cramps.
  • Restricted joint movement.
  • Presence of muscle knots, i.e. if the injured area looks crooked or has lumps or dimpled.
  • When you try to use the joint you buckle.
  • Injury in repeated injury area, i.e. area where you have injured yourself quite few times before.
  • When you are unable to bear the weight on some joint and experience deep muscle pain while doing the same.
  • Numbness, red streaks in the injured area should make you go to the doctor.
  • Area over the injured sore muscles and joints or next to it is very tender to touch.
Severity of Muscle Pulls
How to treat a muscle pull or strain? As soon as you have a muscle pull, stop exercising because it increases pressure and bleeding, causing further damage. A muscle pull does not recover very quickly, so you can contribute the healing process by taking rest. There are three degrees of severity and three types of treatments available for a muscle pull which are as follows.

Grade I Strain (Mild): Mild pain and less than five per cent muscle fibers damaged. Healing time is within two to three weeks.

Grade II Strain (Moderate): Tendon is not completely torn but is greater than the degree one rupture. Contraction of the muscle causes pain. Movement is slightly restricted.

Grade III Strain (Severe): Muscle spasms is extremely high as the tendon is completely torn in this stage. Lumps can be felt and internal bleeding takes place. Pain killers do not help. Surgery is the only option for treatment. This is what usually happens in athletes when we see them suddenly dropping while sprinting.

Pulled Muscle Treatment
The following are some good pulled muscle treatments that you can opt for if you are suffering from this condition. However, it is always advised to consult a doctor before trying any of the following treatment options at home.

Ice Therapy: Ice packs is one of the most common acute injury treatments used for pulled muscle treatment by orthopedics. It provides instant muscle cramp relief. Ice compressions reduce inflammation and are to be used in case of a recent injury, i.e. if the injury has taken place in the last 48 hours. The idea is to decrease the blood flow but it should fit snugly and not as tight for cutting off blood circulation. Ice pack should be applied for 20 minutes. It helps to control the pain. Ice therapy can be used after a vigorous activity, if it is a chronic injury.

Heat Therapy: Wet and heated towel is wrapped around the injury area. Heating pads can serve the purpose too. The amount of heat and time of compression needs to be moderate on the injury. It should not be scathing hot. Heat therapy is good for warming up and beneficial if used before participating in some vigorous activity. It relaxes, soothes and loosens up the tissues in the sore muscles. It increases the blood flow in the injury area. It is usually used for chronic ailments. Do not use heat therapy or massages in case of emergencies, new injuries and after an activity. It increases the blood flow in that area, further damaging the muscle. Massage will cause additional trauma.

RICE: RICE stands for Rest Ice Compressions Elevation. All these are factors of the RICE treatment. REST: Reduce regular activities like exercises, playing, gymming etc. It is advisable not to put weight on the injured area for 48 hours. ICE: Use ice packs for light cold massage or crushed ice wrapped in a thin towel for compressions on the injured area. Cold reduces and controls swelling by reducing blood flow to the injured area. It also provides short-term pain relief. Apply and leave on the cold compresses for 15 minutes. Repeat only after at least 20 minutes. COMPRESSIONS: People experience pain relief from compressions. Compressions in the area of injury can be applied by wrapping an elastic/ACE bandage around the swollen part. The wrap should not be too tight as will stop the blood circulation and give you a painful throbbing feeling. ELEVATION: Elevating any part of the body above the level of the heart reduces the blood flow in that area and swelling too. Lie down with the injured limb elevated on a pillow.

Note: Using support like a splint, walking stick or cane, crutches, etc. may help. When you use a stick, use it on the uninjured side. It will make you lean away which helps in taking off the weight from the injured area.

Hope this article helped you know how to treat pulled muscle and has equipped you with pulled muscle treatments. Now that you know what to do for a pulled muscle, you can confidently go on and help someone who has got a pulled muscle.
By Torque Earnest

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