Snap. As soon as it happens, you realize that you’ve just torn a muscle. In an ideal world, you would be able to quickly go see a doctor. But, because muscle tears are typically not considered an emergency, it may take a day or two before you can schedule an appointment. However, you don’t have to just sit and suffer in the meantime. Here are the top 3 ways to handle a muscle tear immediately afterward.
This stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
For Rest, avoid any activity that causes pain in the injured muscle. Ice the affected area right away for 15-20 minutes at a time, as this will slow down the swelling and reduce pain. Use an elastic bandage to apply Compression until the swelling stops. Start wrapping the area at the end farthest from your heart, and don’t wrap it so hard that you cut off circulation. Then, Elevate the joint above your heart, particularly at night, which will enable gravity to reduce swelling.
Over-the-counter pain medication can help as well, but in the first 48 hours, be sure to avoid those that could increase your risk of bleeding, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (including brands like Advil, Motrin IB, etc.), and naproxen sodium (Aleve). Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is safe to take and can provide some temporary relief, keeping in mind that you shouldn’t go over the daily dose recommendation on the package.
3. Be Prepared for Questions
Your doctor and their team will likely ask you a lot of questions so they can quickly identify your problem and find the exact location, and to help them in this process, here are a few of the questions you should think about ahead of time:
- “What are your symptoms?”
- “Where does the injury hurt most?”
- “What motion were you doing when the injury occurred?”
- “Did you hear anything like a pop or snap?”
- “When did the injury occur?”
- “Have done anything to treat the injury before coming in?”
- “Have you had an injury like this before?”
Giving these some thought, and better yet, writing down the answers will save you from having to think about them in the moment and potentially give incorrect information.
No one ever plans to have to deal with a muscle tear, but they are a real risk for those who work physical jobs or regularly engage in sports. By having a plan in place, you can take control of the situation quickly, reducing your stress and pain, and also make your doctor’s job easier when you’re able to see them. This will ensure that the unpleasant experience is as short as possible so your road to recovery is nice and smooth.
About the Author
Dr. Paul Tortland, DO, is double-board certified in sports and regenerative medicine, and he has been treating a wide variety of musculoskeletal problems for decades. He has helped countless patients successfully recover from minor and major muscle tears using both conservative and cutting-edge techniques, like stem cell therapy, and to learn how he could help you, simply schedule an appointment by clicking here.