Acute muscle strain. Image in "Handbook for the orthopaedic assistant". Schneider, F.R.. Mosby, 1972.
A muscle tear is the loss of continuity between muscular fibers. It is the consequence of a trauma or of efforts that imply overload. There are two different types of tears: longitudinal and transversal.
The longitudinal tear (also known as tear of sport), happens when muscular fibers split apart and leave a breach that can produce scarf tissue. When treated improperly, that new tissue causes a decrease in the efficiency of the muscle as well as possible repetitions or worsening of the injury in the same area.
The transversal tear (also known as degenerative tear), happens when muscular fibers rift, loosing contact between them. This happens more frequently in the attachment between the muscle and the tendon in which it ends.
Symptoms: local pain, functional loss of the affected muscular group, swelling, local hemorrhage.
• Acute phase:
-It is good to use diagnostic methods like an ultrasound scan or magnetic resonance to delimitate the anatomical damage. This is especially important in the case of transversal tears, because those might need chirurgical repair.
-Avoid overloading efforts or repetition of the exercises that caused the damage.
-Apply physical means to diminish inflammation: ice, careful compressive dressings.
-Analgesic and anti-inflammatory medication.
-Allow a healing period before restarting the physical activity (it can last up to five weeks).
• Rehabilitation phase:
-Reestablish the elasticity of the muscular group or ligament.
-Strengthen the zone in order to recover efficiency, security and full body awareness.