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A muscle strain is a painful injury. It occurs as a result of overstraining the muscles that have not been properly prepared for exercise. To prevent this type of injury, a short warm-up is usually sufficient. However, what to do if there is already an injury? Check what are the causes and characteristic symptoms of a muscle strain and how to treat this type of injury.

Muscle strainis a slight microdamage to the muscle fibers, the so-called myofibrils. Fibers shift excessively relative to each other and stop being cohesive. The result is progressive inflammation. These types of injuries include straining the muscles of the shoulder, back, neck, thigh, as well as the gluteal and supraspinatus muscles.

Muscle strain - causes

As a result of excessive overstrain, as well as sudden movement when the muscles are not yet prepared to bear the load, a small amount of muscle fibers are torn - usually where the muscle connects to the connective tissue in the tendon. Muscle strain can also occur when, after a long period of inactivity, we force it to work too hard.

Muscle strain is one of the most common injuries we can get during the holidays. It is during holidays that we often begin to move very actively after months of stillness. Many of us climb, run, jump and put maximum strain on our muscles.

Muscle strain vs tear - differences

We talk about stretching a muscle when the continuity of a small number of muscle fibers (about 5 percent) is broken. In such a situation, the mobility is limited to a small extent. However, if there is more damage to the muscle (more than 5% of the muscle fibers are torn), the injury qualifies as a tear. Then the injury makes it impossible to perform complex motor activities. Symptoms of a rupture are the same as symptoms of a muscle strain. However, the period of immobilization, rehabilitation and full recovery is much longer than in the case of stretching.

Muscle strain - symptoms

As a result of stretching, inflammation develops, the symptom of which is swelling andsharp muscle pain. An accompanying symptom may be a bruise, i.e. bloody rash of the skin, caused by extravasation of blood to the subcutaneous tissue.

An overstretched muscle is sensitive to touch, and any attempt to move will increase the pain even more.

This pain is prickly, point-like, but as a result of pressure it tends to intensify. An accompanying symptom may also be frequent muscle contractions.

Muscle stretch - treatment

A cold compress should be applied to the sore area as soon as possible, which will narrow the dilated blood vessels and reduce swelling. Usually symptoms slowly resolve within 24 hours. Then you can use a warm compress. It is also worth reaching for over-the-counter painkillers.

You can also use preparations that have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, e.g. arnica gel. In addition, arnica will accelerate the absorption of bruises, because the substances contained in the extract of arnica flowers have a protective effect on blood vessels, reduce the permeability of the capillary walls, have an anti-swelling effect. It is worth knowing that arnica is a panacea for all kinds of mechanical damage to the body - from minor bruises to more serious wounds, hematomas, injuries, contusions. For this reason, arnica is used in orthopedics and sports medicine. The use of preparations containing arnica (e.g. gels) early enough can prevent or significantly reduce symptoms, accelerate the absorption of petechiae, tissue damage and bruises.

Further treatment requires, first of all, rest and limitation of physical activity. After the injury has healed, the physical effort should be graded. Otherwise, the injury will recover easily.

However, if the pain worsens, an appointment with a doctor is necessary. An orthopedist will examine the site of the injury and order an X-ray examination to check for possible fractures or other serious injuries. Your doctor may also order a Doppler ultrasound scan (imaging of blood flow in blood vessels) to detect he alth-related abnormalities in the veins that may have resulted from an injury.

Muscle strain - prophylaxis

Weak and unstretched muscles are the most susceptible to injuries, so warm up for at least 15 minutes before starting your workout. You can protect yourself from stretching your muscles by exercising regularly to stretch and strengthen your muscles.

About the authorMonika Majewska A journalist specializing in he alth issues, especially in the areas of medicine, he alth and he althnutrition. Author of news, guides, interviews with experts and reports. Participant of the largest Polish National Medical Conference "Polish woman in Europe", organized by the "Journalists for He alth" Association, as well as specialist workshops and seminars for journalists organized by the Association.

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