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Muscle Pain

Woman without muscle pain smiling while stretching her leg after exercise

Muscle Pain, Sprains & Strains

Muscle pain, like other soft tissue injuries, can be a result of an injury to muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage.

Some of the most commonly caused sports injuries are from overusing a muscle, direct impact from sport, or from having such force to the body which is greater than what the body is built to handle.

Injury Identification & Treatment

Being physically active should not be painful, but occasionally, injuries do occur. “Overuse” injuries are quite common and usually a result of trying to do too much too soon.

The most common types of injuries are:

  • Muscle pulls and strains: tears in muscle fibre and tendons due most frequently to improper stretching
  • Sprains: tears in the ligaments that connect bones which typically occur when joints are suddenly turned in an awkward manner

Self-Treatment Guidelines11

Many of the most common injuries can be treated at home after assessing the severity of the injury and have determined that medical advice is not required.

For strains and sprains, the most commonly recommended guidelines can be easily remembered by the acronym R-I-C-E, for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation:

  • Rest the injured area immediately to cut down on blood circulation to that part of the body
  • Apply ice immediately—it shrinks blood vessels and reduces swelling
  • Compress the injured area with an elastic bandage or cloth to help reduce swelling
  • Elevate the damaged part to a level higher than the heart

When to see a doctor

Using the degree of pain and the circumstances of the injury as a guide for the decision on whether to seek medical attention. Generally, see a doctor if:

  • Pain is extreme or persistent
  • There is trauma to any joint, possibly affecting underlying connective tissue
  • An injury does not heal in a reasonable time
  • An infection or fever develops
  • There is uncertainty on the severity of the injury

References:

  1. 11Department of Health Government of Western Australia. First Aid for Sprains and Strains. http://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/F_I/First-aid-for-sprains-and-strains. [Accessed 22 February 2016]