A muscle may become torn when it is strained or over-exerted, actions that cause the muscle's fibers to pull apart. Although torn muscles can occur anywhere in the body, they are most common in the leg muscles. Luckily, there are many ways to diagnosis a torn muscle. After diagnosis, treatment can reduce any pain or discomfort while accelerating the healing process.
Symptoms: Torn Muscle Tissue
Although torn muscles can occur anywhere, they often occur in the leg muscles. Several common torn muscle conditions are hamstring strain, plantaris strain, quadriceps strain, and the gastrocnemius strain, otherwise known as a calf-muscle pull.
Gastrocnemius strains generally occur when the foot is bent upwards beyond its normal range of movement; this forces the calf muscle beyond its limits. Generally, patients report hearing or feeling a popping, which occurs when the muscle tears away from the Achilles tendon. These strains are prevalent in athletes, including tennis players and joggers.
A plantaris strain afflicts the plantaris muscle, a thin muscle located at the lower end of the femur (the largest bone in the upper leg) and knee joint. Because this muscle does not serve a function in bending the knee, a tear may not result in very much pain. This strain may occur alone or in conjunction with the gastrocnemius strain. A tear in the hamstring muscle--the muscle that extends down the back of the thigh--may occur from running, kicking or jumping.
Generally, patients describe hearing or feeling a popping, usually at the back of the thigh. A quadriceps strain affects the large group of muscles in the front of the thigh, which assist in straightening the knee. This injury is common in runners, and the pain is generally located in the front of the thigh.
Immediate Treatment of Torn Muscle Tissue
Immediately upon recognizing these symptoms, it is essential for the patient to stop any strenuous activity and, instead, elevate the leg. This causes the blood to flow away from the wound, easing any discomfort in the muscle. Apply ice to reduce swelling, though it is essential not to put the ice directly on the skin. Instead, wrap the ice in a washcloth or towel. If the torn muscle is located in the back of the leg, place the ice underneath the leg. If it is on the shin or thigh, apply the ice to the front of the leg, using elastic to keep the ice in place. Ice the injury for 15 to 20 minutes every few hours for the first 48 to 72 hours.
Long-Term Treatment: Torn Muscle Tissue
Upon reducing the discomfort in the muscle, it is necessary to refrain from strenuous activity that may put strain on the torn muscle. Instead, patients should rest until the pain subsides; it should not worsen. If it does, it is essential to rest more and contact a physician. In addition, patients should refrain from attempting to climb stairs or walk. As the quadriceps in the front thigh assist in coming down the stairs, the hamstrings in the back of the thigh assist in going up the stairs, and the calf muscles assist in pushing the toes off the ground. Patients may also use anti-inflammatory medications--including ibuprofen or naproxen sodium--to reduce swelling and pain. Consult your health care provider before taking any medications. Be sure to follow all dosing instructions.
Symptoms of Severely Torn Muscles
If you experience lasting pain or the pain worsens, it is essential to contact a physician immediately. This may be a sign of a more serious injury, which may need physical therapy, or even surgical repair. Consult your health care provider before taking any medications. Be sure to follow all dosing instructions. Patients with more severe torn muscles often experience symptoms, such as debilitating pain, swelling, bruising and prolonged healing.
Prevention of Torn Abdominal Tissue
To prevent tears in the muscles, warm up the muscles with stretches and moderate exercise. In addition, patients who feel pain in their muscles while completing an activity should not work against the pain; instead, refrain from the activity until the pain subsides. Continuing the action may result in a torn muscle or a more serious condition. Consult a personal trainer or physical therapist to develop a personalized stretching routine to help prevent you from injury. All muscles and areas of the body should be warmed up and stretched prior to exercise.