How serious is a muscle injury?
Recently in sports news, Chicago Bears cornerback, Charles “Peanut” Tillman, suffered a repeat triceps muscle tear while in the game. But what exactly is a muscle tear and how serious are these types of injuries?
For Tillman, this injury was devastating. After suffering from the same injury in 2013 that required him to have surgery, re-injuring that same muscle has caused him to end his career too soon.
“Muscle strains are graded from a one to three depending on severity, with a full tear requiring surgery being grade three,” Dr. Lessman says. “Thankfully, most muscle strains are grade one and improve with just conservative management. But once you have an injury to a muscle, there is increased risk of re-injuring without proper rehab.”
Dr. Lessman says that the most common muscle injuries are the ones that cover two different joints, including hamstrings, quads, calf muscles and the gastrocnemius (lower leg muscle). He says triceps is actually one of the muscles least commonly strained.
“Recovery for a muscle injury is different for every person, based on severity and location,” he says.
For most muscle tears, the initial treatment includes rest and ice, he says.
“Depending on severity, immobilization for a short amount of time may be necessary, along with therapy that initially works on getting through a pain-free range of motion,” he says. “You don’t want to overstretch in the beginning.”
Dr. Lessman recommends a warm-up prior to a workout or playing sports which could include a light jog, some jumping jacks and/or light stretching.
If an athlete is in pain and not improving with conservative management, he says, to not hesitate to see a physician.
About the Author
Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Aurora Health. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.