musclejoint-painPhysiotherapy for Muscle Injuries

What is a Muscle Strain?

A muscle strain is damage caused by over-stretching of muscle tissue. The muscle tissue becomes overloaded and reaches a breaking point where a tear or partial tear occurs. This will result in pain that will persist if he or she attempts to stretch or contract the muscle. Depending on their severity, muscle strains are categorised into Grades 1, 2 or 3:

  • GRADE 1 STRAIN
    There is damage to individual muscle fibres (less than 5% of fibres). This is a mild strain which requires 2 to 3 weeks away from sport.  You should seek assessment and treatment/advice from a physiotherapist..
  • GRADE 2 STRAIN
    There is more extensive damage, with more muscle fibres involved, but the muscle is not completely ruptured. The rest period required is usually between 3 and 6 weeks. Again you should seek the assessment and advice of a physiotherapist.
  • GRADE 3 STRAIN
    This is a complete rupture of a muscle. In a sports person this will usually require surgery to repair the muscle. The rehabilitation time can be anything from around 3 months to 12 months.

All muscle strains should be rested and allowed to heal. If the patient continues to play, the condition will worsen. If ignored, a grade one strain has the potential to become a grade two strain or even a complete rupture.  It is important to have your muscle injury assessed to by an experienced physiotherapist to obtain the correct advice and rehabilitation strategy.  To arrange an appointment please contact us.

How does a Damaged Muscle Heal?

The healing process of a muscle strain begins with an inflammatory response which can last for three to five days. This is a crucial time during which rest and protection of the injured part is vital in order to prevent any further damage. During the inflammatory reaction the body produces chemicals and cells which remove dead muscle fibres and start the repair process. The repair process consists of three stages:

  1. REGENERATION OF MUSCLE FIBRES
    New muscle fibres grow from special cells within the muscle.
  2. FORMATION OF SCAR TISSUE
    There is bleeding in the gap between the torn muscle ends, and from this blood a sort of scaffold is formed to anchor the two ends together. This scaffold eventually forms a scar within the muscle that makes the muscle more resistant to further stretch damage.
  3. MATURATION OF THE SCAR TISSUE
    The collagen fibres which make up the scar tissue start to align themselves in the line of stress and stretch and are then able to withstand more force

How are Muscle Injuries Treated?

The immediate treatment consists of the ‘PRICE’ protocol: Protection of the injured part from further damage, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. The aim of this protocol is to reduce bleeding within the muscle tissue. Ice therapy in the form of ice pack (wrapped in something like a tea towel) applications should be continued for the first three days (72 hours) after the injury. The rehabilitation after this period involves gradually stretching the muscle and progressively increasing the muscle strengthening program and loads. To reduce the risk of re-injury, this should be done under the supervision of a physiotherapist.

How can the Risk of Muscle Injury be Reduced?

The following measures may have the effect of reducing the chances of sustaining a muscle strain:

  • Warm up prior to matches and training is thought to decrease muscle stretch injuries because the muscle is more elastic when the tissue temperature has been increased by one or two degrees. A good warm up should last about twenty minutes – starting gently and finishing at full pace activity.
  • Cooling Down.  Recovery after training sessions and matches can be enhanced by performing a cool down, which is thought to help muscles get rid of waste products. This is also the ideal time to do stretching execises.
  • Maintaining good muscle strength and flexibility may help prevent muscle strains.

Physiotherapy for Joint Injuries

An injury can occur to any joint in the body. Because joints allow movement between bones they are prone to injury.  Injuries can occur at joints through a number of causes. The injury can affect the range and quality of movement and strength at the joint. An injury to a joint is normally associated with one, all, or a combination of the following:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Decreased range of movement
  • Heat
  • Bruising

Any injury to a joint should be assessed b y a physiotherapist to assess the severity of the damage and the best management plan.  To arrange an appointment please contact us.

Types of Joint Injuries

Joint injuries can occur at any joint within the body.  The different types of joint injuries are:

  • Traumatic – fractures, ligament sprains / tears, sprains, dislocations
  • Overuse – muscle tendonitis, muscle strain
  • Infections
  • Rheumatic – rheumatoid arthritis

Some of the structures which can because damage within the joint are:

  • Muscles tendons and the muscle itself
  • Ligaments
  • Cartilage
  • Bones
  • Joint capsule
  • Nerves

Joint injuries affecting the ligaments are graded on a scale in a similar way to muscle strains where they are graded out of 3.  Grade 1 is a minor sprain, grade 2 a moderate sprain with ligament laxity and grade 3 is a complete tear or rupture.
Physiotherapy Treatment for Joint Injuries

Physiotherapy can offer assessment, treatment and advice for injuries sustained to joints. Physiotherapy can assist with:

  • Optimising healing
  • Reducing swelling
  • Decreasing pain
  • Provide self-management strategies
  • It is sometimes necessary to refer on for a surgical opinion or further investigation (e.g. MRI scan).  We have a list of surgeons we use for each specific joint injury.

If joint injuries are left untreated they potentially could deteriorate leading to a longer recovery period and additional pain and discomfort. Please contact us to arrange an appointment.

What Physiotherapy treatments can be expected for Joint Injuries?

There are a variety of treatment options which can be used and will be suggested by the experienced physiotherapist after assessment of the injury. Some of the most common treatments that can be expected are:

  • Mobilisation of the joint and the surrounding soft tissues.
  • Advice re Ice therapy and anti-inflammatory strategies.
  • Balance and Proprioceptive Exercises
  • Strengthening Exercises
  • Acupuncture

Joint Injuries can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort which can last for several weeks of even months. These types of injuries can prevent you from participating in sport and your normal day to day activities. Physiotherapy can assist in optimising recovery of your joint problem, or if required, refer you to the right person for further investigation and treatment.  To arrange an appointment please contact us.