muscle injury recovery

Muscle Injury Recovery: A Comprehensive Guide

You’re an active person and enjoy participating in various sports. Unfortunately, that activity has resulted in you having to treat a muscle injury. Because there are different categories and grades, let’s begin our muscle injury recovery guide with what causes muscular injuries!

What are the different severities of muscle injuries?

Muscle injuries are typically grouped into three categories that demand different paths to muscle injury recovery. The three grades of muscle injuries include:

  • Grade I strain: Mild muscle strain

    1. Stretching of a few muscle/tendon fibers with less than 33% tearing of the fibers, and without a palpable defect
    2. Similar to pulling a muscle
    3. Does not result in much damage to the structure of the muscle tissue
  • Grade II strain: Partial muscle tear

    1. Involves damage to the structure of the muscle tissue, but does not result in a complete tear of the tissue
    2. Typically, is about a 33-66% tear of the fibers and a palpable defect is usually present
  • Grade III strain: Complete muscle tear

    1. Typically, involves extensive tearing >66%
      -OR-
    2. All of the muscle fibers are torn, resulting in a complete tear through the muscle

How long does muscle injury treatment and recovery typically take?

Treatment time varies widely depending on the severity of the injury and the type of treatment utilized. Average treatment and recovery timeframes may be:

  • Minor (grade I) injuries: 2-4 weeks
  • Moderate (grade II) injuries: 4-8 weeks
  • Severe (grade III) injuries: 8+ weeks
    • Recovery from this severity of a muscle injury typically varies anywhere from 8-16 weeks, but, on average, can often take 3-4 months for full healing to take place

What is involved in muscle injury recovery?

Grade I & II injury treatment may involve:

  • RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
  • Modification of activity
  • Possible anti-inflammatory medications
    • NSAIDs may be indicated to help manage pain and decrease inflammation
  • Physical therapy:
    • Manual muscle treatment
    • Strengthening/retraining
    • Stretching
    • Joint mobilization
    • Electrotherapy
    • Hot/cold therapy
hamstring injury

Hamstring sprain or cramps. Running sports injury with male triathlete runner.

A grade III injury can take several months to heal, during which time you will be unable to perform regular activities or participate in training and sports-related activities. In rare cases, where there is a complete rupture (where the hamstrings joint the pelvic bones at the top), surgery is necessary. Grade III injury may involve all of the same treatments as grade I & II injuries with the addition of:

  • Increased rest and prolonged absence of physical activity
  • Possible medical referral for either medication or surgery
  • Consideration of use of a splint or cast
  • Possible neuropathy treatment utilizing manual muscle therapy

Depending on the severity of the injury, strained muscles are typically treated utilizing rest/activity restriction, ice, electric stimulation, stretching, and anti-inflammatory meds. At 5280 Cryo & Recovery Clinics we utilize a more hands-on approach to treat muscle strain and soft tissue injuries in order to facilitate quicker and better healing of the injured tissue. The current research and science available points to a more active treatment resulting in better clinical outcomes. Check out this case study where the methods used to treat this patient’s injury demonstrated why 5280 Cryo & Recovery treatment protocols were superior to the standard rest, ice, electric stim, stretching, and NSAIDs regimen.

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