Soreness and achiness are common complaints after exercising. However, the definitive, instant pain of tearing a muscle is a different experience. A muscle tear may result from exercising beyond your body’s limits or an accident.
Muscle tears may result from exhaustion, fatigue, improper form, or overuse. While all muscles are at risk of tearing, they commonly occur in the lower back, neck, shoulder, and hamstring.
Immediate Self-Care After a Muscle Tear
Most muscle tears are not emergencies. If you experience a muscle tear, also called a muscle strain, you can care for it at home. The first step in treating a muscle tear is to use the R.I.C.E. method. R.I.C.E. is an acronym for rest, ice compression, and elevation.
While avoiding all physical activity may worsen symptoms over time, patients should rest their affected muscles by avoiding activities that can cause pain, swelling, or discomfort.
Icing the injury will help to slow down swelling and reduce pain. Apply an ice pack or a bath of water and ice to the affected area for 15-20 minutes every two to three hours when awake and suffering from post-injury pain. Many patients benefit from icing for a few days post-injury.
To reduce swelling, use an elastic bandage to wrap the injury site until swelling stops. The wrap should be mildly constricting but not tight enough to affect circulation. Always begin covering an injury at the point farthest from the heart. If the wrapped area becomes numb or you see swelling below the wrapped area, loosen the compression.
Elevating your injury is another method to help reduce swelling. When elevating, use pillows, blankets, or another soft object to lift the injured area above your heart, allowing gravity to keep the site from swelling. Elevating an injury can be especially important at night.
Pain Relief After a Muscle Tear
It’s best to avoid taking over-the-counter pain medications that could increase the risk of bleeding for the first 48 hours after a muscle tear. These include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium.
Acetaminophen is an option for pain relief in these first 48 hours. However, it’s essential to follow the recommended dosage guidelines on the package.
When to Consult a Medical Professional
You may benefit from seeking medical care if, at the time of injury, you heard a “pop.” Additionally, if you cannot move the area after your injury, you may have a more serious concern.
If your pain worsens in the following days, your symptoms include numbness or tingling, over-the-counter medications don’t help, or if your pain radiates down your arms or legs, you should seek medical guidance.
Some patients are exploring the alternative option of stem cell therapy to help in managing their tissue repair process and pain. Stem cells have the natural ability to home to sites of tissue damage and inflammation due to their ability to release immunomodulatory factors.
This post was written by a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine for Orthopedic also known as Orthopedic Stem cell Therapy. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions.