Muscle tearing. What to do?

muscle tear

Sudden, rapid muscle pain and increasing swelling in most cases usually means one thing - muscle rupture. When should I go to the doctor? How can you help an injured person temporarily?

Muscle tearing. How do you know?

If you feel sudden, rapid, punctual pain and a characteristic "click" while playing sports or lifting a load (also referred to as a sense of "jerk") - we can assume that there was probably a muscle rupture. Another symptom that can occur in muscle injuries is growing local swelling, combined with redness of the skin and often visible, growing haematoma. The site of the injury is sensitive to touch and the pain clearly increases when trying to move the muscle. Sometimes we can also observe a change in muscle structure, visible as a local thickening or depression.

Most serious muscle injuries will require a medical consultation to diagnose the type of injury (muscle tear or rupture, limb fracture) and prescribe painkillers, among other things. Before we go to the doctor (or call an ambulance) we can take care of the proper treatment of the injury ourselves or with the help of another person.

In case of suspicion of muscle rupture, the so-called PRICE method (protect, rest, ice, compress, elevate) is used, including the following activities (1, 2):

  • protecting the limb (or other place of the injury) from the aggravation of the injury - if possible, we try to immobilize the limb e.g. with a bandage and a rail,
  • resting - that is, taking care that the muscle is not overloaded,
  • ice (alternatively: gel compress) - that is, a regular compress of the injury site, apply it every 2 hours or so, applying the compress for 10-15 minutes; never apply the compress directly on the skin, but use a towel,
  • Pressure - putting a flexible bandage in place of the injury can prevent the swelling from getting worse,
  • limb elevation - if possible, the patient should rest with the limb elevated above heart level, which may reduce swelling.

If the injury is serious, the injured person may require prompt medical attention, especially in case (2):

  • with visible open wounds and bleeding,
  • with intense, growing pain at the site of the injury,
  • to observe a change in the colour of the injury site, e.g. significant local reddening or pale skin,
  • about growing swelling,
  • about a fever coming up.

Can you protect yourself from injury?

There is no single, ideal method to protect us from injury. However, it is worth remembering the golden rule that accompanies practicing every type of sport - warm-up is an obligatory part of every training session. A short warming up exercise - e.g. a slow, gradual stretching of all parts of the muscles - will allow the body to start properly and prepare us for the effort. In order to avoid injury, let us try to reasonably estimate the endurance of our own body and, if possible, avoid "overtraining".

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(1) Ingham SJM, Stilhano RS, Abdalla RJ. et al. Treatment of Muscle Injury [in:] "Muscle Injuries in Sport Athletes: Clinical Essentials and Imaging Findings", Roger B, Springer International Publishing 2017; s: 97-104

(2) Muscle Strain Treatment. https://www.webmd.com/first-aid/muscle-strain-treatment#1-1 Accessed: 18.10.2018

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