The Pains of Strains

What exactly is a strain?

A strain is an injury that occurs when a sudden motion forces a muscle to overextend. A sudden motion, like stretching for something out of reach or an acute trauma such as falling down, can cause your muscle to quickly overstretch and then forcefully contract, tearing of the muscle tissue. Some strains can develop gradually, especially in athletes.

How can I tell?

Typically, the muscle will hurt when you try to contract or stretch it. Symptoms of a strain may also include pain, swelling, bruising and difficulty moving the muscle.

What should I do? Whenever you get an ache or pain, rest the injured body part and immediately apply ice. If rest and activity modification doesn’t help, then you may see doctor. Getting a proper diagnosis is important because if not treated correctly, symptoms may reoccur or get worse. This is often the case with ankle and lower back sprains. Depending on the severity of the sprain and the associated symptoms, your doctor may prescribe physical therapy.

Why is physical therapy necessary?

Depending on the injury, physical therapy may be prescribed for several weeks to gradually reactivate the sprained muscle so that you can return to your previous level of function. Once initial healing has started, most people will benefit from guided exercises that can start to gently stretch the injured muscle tissue. Your physical therapist can show you the most effective exercises and stretches for your specific condition.

At Penn Therapy & Fitness, our physical therapists also incorporate self-management techniques in treatment that teaches you to independently manage pain, swelling and increase overall range of motion. To continue recovering outside of the therapy gym, home exercises are also provided to empower you to take control of your own recovery. Through physical therapy and education during treatment, you will become empowered to manage your symptoms while learning how to prevent future injuries.

Whether it is a similar problem that you need to re-address or something completely new, think physical therapy first! To get started with a skilled physical therapist, click here to find a Penn Therapy & Fitness location closest to you!

About the Blogger:

Molly Dang, PT, DPT, OCS received a Master of Science in Physical Therapy from Washington University in 2001 and a clinical Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Temple University in 2009. She became an American Physical Therapy Association board certified Orthopedic specialist in 2010. She treats a wide range of orthopedic and sports injuries with a whole-body approach to addressing functional movement impairments. Molly participates in teaching at continuing education courses, and teaches Basic Life Support for the American Heart Association. She is a mentor for the Good Shepherd Penn Partners Orthopedic Residency program and a clinical instructor and educator for physical therapy student