Tearing a muscle can be both scary and painful. Not only do you have trouble running, throwing, or otherwise engaging in physical activities afterward, but, of course, you wonder how long it will take to heal. Most torn muscles will eventually heal on their own, but if you want to get back in the game sooner, then it is a good idea to see a sports medicine doctor. Here are a few treatments they may administer or recommend.
After you tear a muscle, the area tends to become inflamed. This inflammation can interfere with the healing process by reducing blood for to the affected tissues. To reduce the inflammation, your sports medicine doctor will likely recommend you take a type of medication called NSAIDs. These medications fight both inflammation and pain, thereby speeding the healing process. Often, patients are asked to take NSAIDs consistently for a week or two before cutting their use down to once or twice a day.
As a torn muscle heals, it can tighten up. This can make your soreness worse, and it can also slow down the healing process. So, your sports medicine doctor may show you some stretches that you can perform in order to keep the affected area looser and more limber. These stretches will be prescribed carefully to ensure you don't cause any additional harm to the muscles in the process. You may be asked to do them when you get out of bed in the morning, before any physical activity, or both.
TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. For this treatment, your sports medicine doctor will place a couple of electrodes on the area surrounding the torn muscle. Electrical impulses will be delivered through these electrodes, causing your nerves to fire repeatedly. This will help ease your pain and loosen the area up, which can speed healing. Some sports medicine doctors may even send you home with a portable TENS device to use on your own. The treatment is very safe, although it can feel a bit strange the first few times you do it.
Torn muscles will eventually heal, but if you want to heal faster and with less pain, then it's a good idea to seek medical care. A sports medicine doctor tends to be the best type of practitioner to see for these purposes since they are used to seeing torn muscles in athletes. Contact a sports medicine doctor for more information.