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How do I Choose the Best Torn Muscle Treatment?

By Angela Crout-Mitchell
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are several treatment options for a torn muscle or muscle strain, including rest, applying ice with alternating heat packs, and the use of over-the-counter pain medications. Physical therapy, stretching, and strengthening exercises are often used to treat this common type of injury as well. The most appropriate torn muscle treatment will depend on the severity as well as the location of the injury. Muscle strains are classified by three distinct categories, each one distinguished by specific symptoms. In some cases, the muscle injury can be treated at home with no medical intervention, while other more serious tears will require the aid of a sports or medical professional.

Each torn muscle injury fits into one of three main categories or grades. The first grade refers to the most minor type of tear and is characterized by very little discomfort and no loss of motion. The second grade is more serious and may include bruising, swelling, and can limit the person's ability to perform high level activities, such as strenuous exercise. In the third grade of muscle strains, the patient exhibits swelling, extreme pain, and severely limited range of motion near the injury. It is common for all muscle tear grades to be treated similarly, with the more serious injuries requiring a longer time period to fully heal.

The most common and effective torn muscle treatment is rest for the affected joint and muscle. Depending on the patient and the severity of the injury, this rest period can be as short as five days, or it may take a few weeks for full recovery. Patients are encouraged to move as normally as possible, while ensuring the injured area does not become overly tired or sore. This combination of normal activity, along with proper rest, is believed to encourage muscle recovery with as little additional stress as possible.

Another torn muscle treatment option involves the use of cold and hot packs, used alternately to relieve the common symptoms of muscle strain, such as soreness and pain. Cold packs are used more effectively in the first 72 hours following the injury. It is recommended that cold packs only are used for 15 minutes intervals to avoid damage to the skin. Hot packs may be applied to reduce stiffness in the muscle and allow for greater range of motion during recovery.

Over-the-counter preparations and medications are viable options for torn muscle treatment as well. Creams and ointments can be applied to the injured area when needed. These products contain ingredients that offer a combination of soothing heat and cold to the affected muscle group. For pain and discomfort, many sports therapists and doctors recommend patients with torn muscles take pain killers with anti-inflammatory properties as needed until the symptoms subside.

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