A muscle fiber tear is one of the typical sports injuries. It usually occurs in the thigh or calf area. Sprinters and soccer players in particular often suffer from a torn muscle fiber, as the high loads on the muscles are particularly evident in these sports. Missing or insufficient warming up and stretching then usually cause the muscle fibers to tear. Severe stabbing pains are the result.
What is a hamstring tear?
A hamstring tear is a sports injury that often occurs in running sports, particularly in the thigh or calf area. This injury tears a bundle of muscle fibers and not a single muscle fiber, as is commonly believed. See electronicsmatter for Carcinoid Syndrome Definition.
A hamstring tear is comparable to a muscle strain and a muscle tear, with the muscle strain being a much milder injury and the muscle tear being a much more serious injury. The symptoms of a muscle fiber tear include a sudden, stabbing pain and later persistent pain when the muscle in question is contracted. A muscle fiber tear also causes bleeding in the muscle, which can be detected by an ultrasound examination.
A muscle fiber tear is often caused by movements that are too strong or too abrupt. This can be starting or slowing down a running movement. The muscle fiber tear is often due to fatigue or overloading of the muscle, which can no longer withstand the strong contractions and stretching.
Insufficient warming up or cold in winter can also serve as causes. If the muscle is not properly prepared for training, there will be insufficient blood flow, the communication between muscle and receptors is reduced and the muscle does not react quickly enough. Fundamental muscular imbalances can also cause a muscle fiber tear.
Imbalances are present when a muscle is more developed than its counterpart. Then one muscle has to compensate for the weaknesses of another and is exposed to a higher load. This can then lead to a muscle fiber tear.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
A muscle fiber tear manifests itself without warning as an acute, spasmodic pain, similar to a knife or needle prick. The person concerned tries to adopt a relieving posture in order not to strain the torn muscle as much as possible. If the sensation of pain increases sharply as a result of tensing, pressing or stretching a muscle, these are further signs of a muscle fiber tear (usually first degree).
If more than five percent of the muscle fibers are torn, the symptoms intensify due to swelling, which usually subsides after 24 hours to two days. The formation of a bruise (hematoma) is often the result. Serious muscle fiber tears up to and including a muscle bundle tear also become visible through bleeding when the muscle sheath consisting of connective tissue tears and blood penetrates the tissue.
The patient feels the immediate loss of strength in the muscle, so that it can only be active to a very limited extent and the movement is impaired. In addition, a muscle fiber tear (from grade II) can also be determined by touch. As an indication, a dent up to the point of warping can be seen, because the muscle parts contract towards the ends of the tendons. The exact interpretation of the symptoms and the intensity of the injury must be examined by a doctor.
Course of the disease
After a muscle fiber tear, the muscle should not be strained if possible, as it needs time for the muscle fibers to grow together. A torn muscle takes about 4-7 weeks to heal, although there are differences depending on the athlete and the torn muscle.
After a few days or weeks you should notice an improvement. The muscle feels stronger again, becomes more resilient and the ability to stretch slowly increases. However, scars form in the muscles, which can also lead to limited elasticity of the muscle in the long term.
If the muscle is not sufficiently protected after a muscle fiber tear, ossification can occur. These develop from bruising and are usually based on incorrect treatment after the muscle fiber tear.
A muscle fiber tear is a clinical picture that is associated with various complications. A muscle fiber tear is usually caused by overloading the corresponding muscle. The affected person is particularly disturbed in the course of movement, since such a muscle fiber tear is very painful. Even at rest, there can be stabbing pain in the respective body region.
Under certain circumstances, inflammation can even form if the affected area continues to be heavily loaded. In particularly bad cases, an abscess forms, which is filled with pus fluid. Such accumulation of pus can cause various other complications. If this liquid gets into the bloodstream, it can even lead to blood poisoning.
This can also cause an infection. Severe headaches, fever and body aches are the result. If you want to avoid these complications, you should seek medical treatment at an early stage. By taking appropriate medication, healing can take place quickly and complications do not even occur.
The following therefore applies: A muscle tear may be associated with various complications, which should always be treated accordingly by a doctor. Otherwise there is a risk of permanent consequential damage, so that a full recovery is no longer possible.
When should you go to the doctor?
The muscle fiber tear is an injury that in many cases heals without the therapeutic options of a doctor. This is especially true if only small areas are affected, i.e. the tear is not too pronounced. Spontaneous healing occurs here simply by resting and, if necessary, cooling the affected muscles. However, there are a few reasons why it is advisable to see a doctor.
This includes, for example, severe pain that cannot be alleviated by cooling or painkillers. A large hematoma, an accumulation of blood in the tissue, is also a reason for a doctor’s visit. This is especially true if the bruise doesn’t seem to get any smaller over time or even encapsulates itself, which as a hardening can also be felt by laypeople.
It is also possible that hemorrhage presses on a blood vessel or nerve and causes compression there. This can lead to undersupply of the tissue. Therefore, numbness or tingling are also reasons for going to the doctor. Severe pain can also indicate that it is not a muscle fiber tear, but a muscle bundle tear that should be treated medically. If the injury was caused by a fall or a blow, the doctor can also determine whether a tendon, ligament or bony structure is involved.
Treatment & Therapy
The treatment of a muscle fiber tear differs depending on the severity of the injury and the general physical condition of the injured person. The first aid runs according to the PECH scheme. Accordingly, a break, ice, compression (pressure bandage) and elevation are used in the event of a muscle fiber tear. This prevents heavy bleeding and swelling. These immediate measures can also be decisive for the further success of the treatment and the duration of the injury.
In the following days, the muscle should be rested extensively. If you have a muscle fiber tear in your leg, arm supports make it easier to walk. There are also cold treatments and muscle relaxation exercises. The exercises also ensure that muscle strength is maintained. Special tape bandages that help the muscle fibers to grow together can also be beneficial for healing after a muscle fiber tear.
Whether an operation makes sense is determined individually. As a rule, however, an operation is only performed if a large part of the muscle fiber bundle has been torn, making it impossible for the muscle fibers to grow together naturally in the event of a severe muscle fiber tear.
Outlook & Forecast
The prognosis for a muscle fiber tear is usually very good. Depending on the severity, the injury usually heals by itself and completely within two to four weeks, provided the injured muscle is rested. In the case of a ruptured muscle bundle or muscle, healing may take longer (up to two months).
Various measures promote healing. Immediate protection and elevation of the muscle prevents heavy bleeding. Heat should also be avoided. Careful attention should be paid to the observance of the closed season, as otherwise further injuries to the muscle can occur. This can unnecessarily delay healing or significantly worsen the initial situation.
Targeted physiotherapy and subsequent physiotherapy also have a beneficial effect on healing. Here, the muscle is strained carefully and with increasing intensity in order to restore its original functionality.
Complications are rare and actually only occur if the muscle is overused again prematurely. In this case, too, the prognosis is still good if the patient adheres to the measures described. Muscle tissue is very regenerative, so permanent damage can almost always be ruled out.
Good follow-up treatment is particularly important in the case of a pronounced muscle fiber tear. Even severe fiber tears heal after a few months, but the resulting scar tissue is shorter. It’s also less stretchy than normal muscle tissue. Due to different stretching properties, there is also a risk of renewed muscle fiber tears.
However, this risk can be counteracted by means of rehabilitation measures that can be individually tailored. To this end, the patient performs isometric exercises. This is followed by coordination and movement training. In the course of the follow-up treatment, the muscles continue to be strained step by step, for example through sporting activities such as swimming or cycling, which are gentle on the joints and proceed harmoniously. Ultimately, the sport-specific training can be resumed.
Physiotherapeutic manual lymphatic drainage is an important rehabilitation measure. It has a decongestant effect and combats pain and pressure on the injured part of the body. It can be done a few days after the muscle fiber tear. Light stretching exercises and moderate heat are also helpful.
It is important that the affected muscle is given enough time to recover. This can avoid complications. It is also important to avoid alcohol because it weakens the body’s defense system and interferes with the healing process. A healthy and protein-rich diet, on the other hand, has a positive effect. Protein is considered an important building material for the organism.
You can do that yourself
If there is a suspicion of a muscle fiber tear, the sporting activity should be stopped immediately in order to limit the damage. The sooner the right measures are taken, the faster the tear will heal.
The injured muscle should be immobilized with a sling or bandage. Cooling afterwards helps against the pain. Cold, damp envelopes and ice packs are suitable for this. Important: ice packs should not come into direct contact with the skin, but should be wrapped in a cloth. Otherwise there is a risk of frostbite. Apply the ice treatment for about 20 minutes. A pressure bandage has a similar effect to cooling with ice. The advantage of this is that the elastic bandage also stabilizes the muscle and limits mobility. However, the bandage must not be applied too tightly so as not to pinch nerves and blood vessels.
Elevating the affected body part helps reduce blood flow to the injured tissue. This reduces the pain and reduces the swelling. For this reason, heat should also be avoided immediately after the injury, as this stimulates blood circulation. These measures are most effective when used in combination.