Muscle strains are common injuries, but if not treated properly, a strain can worsen, leading to severe pain or loss of mobility. A chiropractor at SnapCrack recommends different types of treatments to help patients recover from muscle strains. Carry on reading to learn more about common causes of muscle strain and how a chiropractor can help.
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What is a Strain?
A strain is a pulled muscle, which happens when the tendons or muscles suffer a contusion or tear. While any muscle or tendon can experience a strain, it is generally more common in the lower back, thighs, shoulders, and neck areas. For example, athletes often suffer from hamstring strains due to intensive training and explosive movement in sports.
The following are the most common symptoms of muscle strain:
- Sore muscle
- Restricted movement
- Discoloration or bruising of the area
- Swelling and extreme pain
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle stiffness
In the case of mild strains, you might be able to move the muscle without experiencing extreme pain. However, if the strain is severe, involving complete or partial tearing of the muscle tissues, the pain can be severe, often requiring complete immobilization of the area.
Common Causes of Strain
Acute muscle strains result from the muscle or tendon suddenly tearing due to trauma or injury. This can happen from any activity that causes the muscle to overstretch. For example, not warming up before exercise, poor flexibility, or lifting a heavy object are common causes of strain. On the other hand, chronic muscle strains can occur over time through repetitive movement. These strains result from muscle fibers gradually being damaged and muscle tissue inflammation. Conditions that can cause chronic muscle strains include poor posture and not resting properly between playing sports or performing physical activities.
Chiropractic Treatments for Strain
When you visit a chiropractor to seek relief from a muscle strain, they will conduct a physical examination of the injured area to diagnose the problem. Many different conditions and injuries can result in muscle pain, so it is vital you get a proper diagnosis. After the diagnosis, the chiropractor will discuss the most suitable treatment plan with you. Here are some of the most common chiropractic techniques used for treating muscle strains:
Musculoskeletal manipulation is a therapeutic technique in which chiropractors use their hands or instruments to bend, pull, or apply pressure to the muscles and tendons. Through this technique, chiropractors can reposition any subluxations and gradually restore the range of motion to help the patient get relief from the pain caused by the strain. Not only does musculoskeletal manipulation aid in recovering from the existing muscle strain, but it can also help you avoid any musculoskeletal injuries in the future.
Besides diagnostic ultrasound, there is also ultrasound physical therapy that chiropractors can use to treat various musculoskeletal injuries, including muscle strains. During this thermal therapy, the ultrasound wand sends waves through the strained muscle, causing it to heat up through vibration. This heating up of the muscle can result in the reduction of any inflammation, giving the patient relief from muscle pain. Thermal ultrasound therapy can also deliver essential nutrients to the muscle tissues and improve blood flow in the area.
Electrical Muscle Stimulation
Electrical muscle stimulation is another treatment chiropractors can perform on patients to help them recover from muscle strains. During this treatment, electrodes are attached to the patient’s skin, and low-voltage electrical currents are passed through to the injured area. This can stimulate muscle contractions, improving blood flow and reducing pain. Electrical muscle stimulation can also reduce inflammation of the muscle tissues and promote the production of endorphins in the body, which help reduce pain.
The chiropractor might recommend RICE therapy to treat the strain. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation and is another effective treatment for acute muscle strains. It can help decrease swelling, inflammation, and pain in the muscle.The first step of this procedure is adequate rest, followed by icing the strained area, compressing it to reduce swelling, and at the end, elevating the injured area to promote the flow of blood and fluids back toward the heart.
Chiropractors can perform massage therapy to promote the body’s natural healing process. Chiropractic massage therapy improves the body’s function and allows it to minimize muscle tissue inflammation naturally.
Other than performing therapy to fix the muscle strain, a chiropractor can also prescribe some exercises to help eliminate the pain and discomfort caused by the muscle strain. These exercises can strengthen your muscles and help you avoid experiencing similar injuries in the future.
When to See a Medical Doctor for a Strain
When you visit a chiropractor to treat muscle strain, they can advise whether your strain can be treated through chiropractic care or if you should see a specialist. In some cases, muscle strains can be severe, leading to complete loss of muscle function or movement, discoloration, tenderness, fever, or extreme pain. If you experience a popping sensation and a visible gap or dent in the outline of the muscle, you should consider consulting a doctor for treatment.