A muscle strain is one of the most common forms of injury that occurs to the musculoskeletal system. This is because muscle strains develop nearly anywhere in our body, especially in the muscles that we use frequently and that undergo regular stress. This injury is the result of microscopic tears that develop in our muscle fibers that can either be caused by overuse or excessive force.
This means that anyone can experience a muscle strain, from professional athletes to people who work physical jobs to someone who is doing housework. Fortunately, muscle strains are typically minor injuries that improve in a very short period of time with basic treatments. However, this does not mean you should ignore them if they do occur.
Muscle strains require attention and proper care or you run the risk of the injury worsening or new injuries developing. Frequent muscle strains could also mean that there is an underlying condition or muscle imbalance present that requires medical attention. To help you better understand the importance of not ignoring a muscle strain, we’re happy to share the following guide.
The friendly and dedicated staff at Outpatient Joint Replacement Center of America (OJRCA) is always here to assist you. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please feel free to reach out at any time.
1. A Muscle Strain Can Lead to a Compensatory Injury
If you develop a muscle strain at any location in the body, one of the most important things you can do is get rest while the injury heals. Whether you’re an athlete, a highly active person or work in a physical occupation, it may be tempting to “work through the pain.” Not only can this prolong the healing time or worsen the injury, but it can also increase the risk of suffering from a related injury.
This is because the muscles in our body are highly interconnected, forming a kinetic chain. This means that trying to stay active when you have a muscle strain can alter your finely tuned biomechanics and increase the strain on an adjoining muscle or soft tissue. For example, what starts out as a strain hamstring, can quickly turn into a strained hip flexor.
Ignoring one muscle strain has the potential to turn into a whole string of injuries.
2. A Muscle Strain Can Become a More Significant Muscle Tear
More minor muscle strains are basically the result of the muscle overstretching, which actually results in microscopic tears in the muscle fiber. However, if these small tears aren’t allowed to heal properly they can continue to grow, weakening the muscle fiber. Eventually, if you continue to engage in the same activities that caused the muscle strain, this weakened muscle tissue can become visibly torn.
A more severe muscle tear can be more painful and debilitating, causing an injury that is a genuine tear at the muscle tendon junction, as opposed to microscopic tears. These injuries can require several weeks or months of rest and rehabilitation instead of a few days. Additionally, patients may also require more involved treatment such as physical therapy.
3. Muscles Can Become Completely Torn
In the most severe cases, a muscle strain can become completely torn, or fully severed. While this type of injury is often the result of catastrophic mechanical stress, the presence of a muscle strain can result in the increased risk of the muscle becoming completely torn. Severed muscles/tendons occur frequently in bodybuilders and weight lifters due to the tremendous stresses they place on muscles.
Anyone engaging in an activity with a high potential for causing a complete muscle tear should take all precautions and practice proper form. If you have been diagnosed with a muscle strain or minor tear, do not begin practicing your sport or activity until cleared by a physician. While traumatic injuries that cause muscle tears may not be avoidable, in other cases they often start as a preventable minor muscle strain.
4. A Completely Torn Muscle/tendon Often Requires Surgical Repair
A large portion of muscle injuries, even many tears, can be treated conservatively without the need for surgery. This includes rest, ice, compression, elevation, over-the-counter medication and physical therapy. However, in some cases especially a completely torn muscle, patients require surgical repair.
Surgical muscle repair procedures require a long recovery period and there is no guarantee that patients will enjoy a full restoration of muscle function. This is why it is so important to take treatment of a muscle strain or minor muscle tear seriously. It can mean the difference between a few days to a week out of action or months.
5. Recurring Muscle Strains Could Contribute to Arthritis and Other Conditions
Another reason to pay attention to a muscle strain is that it could be contributing to the presence of conditions that lead to joint damage. This is especially true if muscle strains have become a recurring part of your life.
What frequent injuries can do is essentially speed up the degenerative forces that cause breakdown of the protective cartilage that allows for smooth joint motion. While muscle strains do not cause arthritis, by chronically increasing the stress we place on the joints, it can lead to an increased risk of joint damage on a long-term basis.
While arthritis and other degenerative joint conditions can often be treated with conservative care, they are nonreversible. In some cases joint replacement surgery can represent the best chance of relieving symptoms and improving function.
Learn More About Joint Replacement Surgery for Severe Joint Damage
At OJRCA, our highly skilled team is committed to delivering exceptional levels of patient centered care. Our outpatient joint replacement surgeries use the most advanced protocols and state-of-the-art technology to shorten the recovery process and reduce postsurgical pain so patients can get back to a healthy and active lifestyle.
Contact us today to learn more about our full range of treatment options and how to become a potential candidate for one of our procedures.