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Torn Muscle - Muscle Tears


Symptoms Checklist:

  • The pain came on suddenly
  • You felt a sharp stabbing pain in your muscle
  • You may have heard something “pop”
  • While you can still move, tensing the muscle makes it sore
  • The muscle feels tender and sore to your touch
  • There is swelling to the damaged area

Torn Muscle

Your muscles are made of fibres resembling threads wound into rope.  Each layer is covered by “cling film”.  A muscle tear happens when these “threads” are stretched too much and break.  As they break, the severed ends spring back and curl up.  This space is then filled with blood which causes the discoloration that appears as bruising after a day or so.  Muscles can tear for many reasons, lack of proper warm-up, over stressing, weakness from a previous injury or poor repair, over tired, tense or cold muscles damage more easily.  The amount and severity of the tear depends on the severity of the stretch or the blow you received.  Once a tear occurs, your body responds automatically by rushing fluid to the area to immobilise the damaged part and start the repair process.  In strenuous exercise the rate of blood flow is about 20 times faster than normal.  As the site of the damage fills with fluid, torn blood vessels are restricted by the pressure of the swelling and the internal bleeding stops.  However, this mechanism of self-defence can add to your problems later.  As well as bringing fluid urgently to the site of the damage, your body also brings proteins that remain and have a negative effect on the healing process. 

Physical Therapy/Osteopathy and Muscle Tear

The therapist’s first goal is to stop the internal bleeding and swelling.  This can be done by applying ice immediately to the affected area.  You must then rest the damaged muscle, raising the limb to reduce blood flow.  Applying a bandage will also help slow down the swelling.  Muscle cells grow very slowly and often cannot repair themselves naturally.  However, other soft tissue in the area of damage can grow quicker and usually this connective tissue will replace the damaged part.  Because this connective tissue is harder and less elastic than muscles the quality of repair is poor and you could be prone to recurring injury. As well as that, the threads that should have been running the length of the muscle are all bunched up, so when they are strained the next time can tear very easily.  The Physical Therapist will use specific strokes and stretches to correctly align these new threads or fibres, break down the scar tissue, gently stretch the shortened muscles, prevent the formation of adhesions, increase circulation and improve the quality of repair.  Muscle needs a long time to repair properly and your return to competition must be slow if you are ever to recover fully.

Tags: Muscles, torn, Muscle Tears, Muscle sprain or strain, Sports Injuries

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