Occasionally when too high a load is placed on the muscle a strain or complete tear can occur. The degree of pain and lost function following a muscle strain will coincide with the severity of the tear. Symptoms can range from a feeling of mild discomfort to an inability to weight bear or move the affected limb due to pain and/or weakness. The severity of a muscle strain is graded into three categories.
- A grade one strain is where only a few muscle fibres are stretched, there may be some low level pain associated with a grade one strain but there is no loss of strength. In some cases those who sustain a grade one calf strain will often not be aware that they have strained the muscle at the time of injury and it is only after when they have cooled down that they will feel some pain.
- A grade two strain is a moderate strain where more of the fibres have been torn resulting in a partial tear of the muscle. There is usually swelling and bruising associated with this grade of tear and a loss of strength.
- A grade three tear of the muscle is very severe, usually this is a complete tear resulting in a significant loss of function and an inability to weight bear through the affected limb. Often with tears of this nature patients will report hearing an audible ‘pop’ and there may also be a visible dent on the part of the muscle where the tear has taken place.
Early intervention with physiotherapy is extremely important. As with all muscle strains it is advised that you apply the PRICE (protect, rest, ice, compression and elevation) principle for the first 48 hours to minimise the build-up of swelling and the formation of scar tissue. Recovery time will be determined by the severity of the tear but it is vital that you actively rehabilitate the muscle through physiotherapy in order to minimise scar tissue formation and regain full strength. Our Chartered Physiotherapists specialise in sports injuries and are experts in managing muscles strains and returning injured athletes back to full fitness. In order to treat muscle strains our physiotherapists may use a combination of the following treatment methods, Deep tissue massage, hot/cold therapy, dry needling, laser, and rehabilitative exercises.