Muscle injuries is a broad term encompassing many conditions that can affect the musculoskeletal system. These conditions can affect both the amateur athlete, elite athlete and the usual weekend warrior. Muscle injuries are a common complaint that is presented to a chiropractic clinic which can range from strains, contusions and tears. Muscle injuries that are commonly strained are the quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles.
Muscle injuries can be differentiated into two separate categories such as acute and chronic. Acute injuries are usually the result of a single traumatic event which can cause macro-trauma to the muscles. Whereas, Chronic injuries are usually from overuse, or chronic exertion from the muscles. These tend to occur over a longer period of time such as 3 months.
Muscle injuries can be classified into strains with a traditional classification system such as; Grade I mild injury to the muscle involving small number of fibers with localised pain. Grade II involving moderate injury to the muscle which involves a significant number of muscle fibres torn resulting in decreased strength and localised pain. Lastly, Grade III which involves a severe strain to the muscle. This entails a complete tear / rupture of the muscle. This means the tendon has separated from the muscle belly or the muscle belly has separated into 2 parts. There is accompanied swelling, loss of function and severe pain.
Further more muscle injuries can be subcategorised into muscular cramps. Muscular cramps are sudden, involuntary muscle contractions or a shortening of the muscles. Muscular cramps are typically short however can be quite painful when experiencing one. They’re temporary and non-damaging and a period of immobility from hours to a couple days. The muscles that often cramp are the calves, quadriceps and arches of the foot. Some reasons to investigate why muscular cramps are occurring are low magnesium levels, potassium levels, dehydration, inadequate carbohydrate intake. Otherwise, in an athletic population suffering muscular cramps it could be due to strenuous activity, inadequate warm up, or over working.
Recommendations and advice to follow recent acute injuries include the RICE principle. Such as resting the area injured, applying some ice over the injured area, compressing the area and elevating the injured area. Treatment from an allied health practitioner can also help you recover and reduce the discomfort you’re feeling. Treatment usually has good outcomes. Therapy can include the use of stretching, strengthening, soft tissue therapy, dry needling. If you need help or assistance with any muscular injuries, the team will be more than happy to help assist.