Muscle strains occur when muscle fibres become over stretched and fail. Sometimes referred to as a tear or a pulled muscle, muscle strains are painful and result in swelling and weakness in the affected muscle.
Muscles contract when they are used. If the amount of force required by the muscle is too great, or if the muscle is fatigued, the fibres in the muscle reach their limit and break.
Muscle injuries are often graded according to how much of the muscle is affected. Grade 1 strains involve damage to individual fibres and are usually less than 5% of the muscle. Grade 2 injuries involve damage to more of the muscle, but not the completely torn. Grade 3 strains involve a complete rupture of the muscle and can be a very serious injury.
Physiotherapy can help by initially assessing the injury and advising on the appropriate course of management depending on the particular muscle injured and severity of the injury.
In the first few days following a muscle strain, it is advisable to follow the acronym “PRICE” – Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate the injured body part.
If the pain lasts more than a day or so, or the muscle is too painful to use, then it is advisable to see a physiotherapist or a doctor who can assess for the severity of the injury and check for more significant injury.