Muscle injuries can occur at any time, especially in people who exercise frequently. Exercise that is too strenuous can cause torn muscles or sprained ligaments. If you or your child enjoys sports, it's a good idea to understand how to provide first aid for injuries. Usually, minor injuries can be treated on their own using the kit in a first aid kit and over-the-counter medications, but you will need to seek medical attention if the injury is severe enough.
Method 1 of 3: Coping with Minor Injuries
Step 1. Rest the injured muscle
Usually, grade one and grade two muscle injuries don't need to be treated by a doctor. You can treat minor injuries with the "RICE" method. The letter R stands for "rest" which means to rest the injured muscle.
- Do not exercise until the injured muscle can be moved without pain. Do not participate in sports games if the muscles are still sore. Usually, you need to rest for a maximum of 2 weeks. Consult a doctor if the muscles are still sore after 2 weeks.
- You can still walk and/or move your arm if you have a minor injury. If not, consult a doctor immediately because there is a possibility that you may experience a serious injury.
Step 2. Compress the injured muscle with ice (ice is abbreviated I)
Use ice, such as frozen peas in a bag or ice cubes in a plastic bag. Before applying the compress, wrap the ice pack in a cloth or light towel and place it on the injured muscle for 15-20 minutes every 2 hours for the first 2 days.
Ice serves to reduce bleeding in the body (hematoma), edema, inflammation, and discomfort
Step 3. Apply compression (abbreviated C) to the injured muscle
For the first 48-72 hours after the injury, protect the injured body part by wrapping it with a bandage. Wrap the bandage tight enough, but not too tightly.
- To wrap the injured muscle, wrap the bandage starting from the area furthest from the heart. For example, if you injured your bicep, wrap the bandage around your upper arm starting from the elbow toward the armpit. Another example, if you injured your calf, wrap the bandage around your leg starting from the ankle to the knee.
- When wrapping the bandage, leave a gap of 2 fingers between the skin and the bandage. Remove the bandage if there are signs of obstruction to blood circulation, such as numbness, tingling, or paleness of the muscles around the bandage.
- In addition, compression is useful to protect the muscles from getting injured again.
Step 4. Raise (elevate abbreviated E) the injured limb
You will need to elevate the injured limb so that it is higher than the heart to reduce edema. Before lying down, put some pillows for support. Make sure you are comfortable when lying down.
- If the injured limb cannot be raised higher than the heart, try to keep it parallel to the floor and not lower than the heart.
- If the injured muscle is still throbbing, raise it higher.
Step 5. Avoid "HARM"
During the first 72 hours after a muscle injury, do not engage in activities that could make the injury worse. This activity is abbreviated as "HARM".
- The letter H stands for heat (heat). Do not use a heating pad or take a warm bath.
- The letter A stands for alcohol. Do not drink alcohol because alcohol increases the risk of bleeding and edema. In addition, alcohol slows muscle recovery.
- The letter R stands for running (running). Don't run or do strenuous activities that could make the injury worse.
- The letter M stands for massage (massage). Do not massage injured muscles or undergo massage therapy as these activities increase the risk of bleeding and exacerbate edema.
Step 6. Eat nutritious foods to heal injured muscles
Eat foods that contain lots of vitamin A, vitamin C, omega 3 fatty acids, zinc, antioxidants, and protein for a faster recovery process. In addition, consume oranges, sweet potatoes, blueberries, chicken, walnuts, and others.
Method 2 of 3: Relieve Pain Using Medication
Step 1. Take NSAIDs for pain relief
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, commonly called NSAIDs, are useful for treating pain and inflammation in injured muscles. Take NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen according to the dosage listed on the package. Ibuprofen or aspirin can be taken for 3-7 days after the injury. Do not take NSAIDs for more than 7 days because they can bring long-term side effects, such as stomach pain.
- Treatment with NSAIDs can relieve pain, but these drugs stop the chemical reaction phase that plays an important role in the recovery process later in life.
- Take ibuprofen or naproxen with a glass of water after a meal to prevent gastric complications, such as ulcers. If you have asthma, keep in mind that anti-inflammatory drugs can trigger asthma attacks.
Step 2. Ask your doctor to prescribe a pain relief cream
You can buy an NSAID cream according to a doctor's prescription and then apply it to the skin on the injured body area. This cream is useful for relieving pain and swelling in injured muscles.
- Apply the cream only on the painful or swollen area and use it as directed by your doctor.
- Make sure you wash your hands immediately after applying the cream to the injured muscle.
Step 3. Ask your doctor to prescribe painkillers if your muscles are very sore
Usually, more severe injuries make the muscles feel very sore. If you experience this, your doctor may prescribe painkillers, such as codeine.
Keep in mind that they are stronger than over-the-counter drugs and can be addictive. Take the drug according to the dosage listed in the doctor's prescription
Method 3 of 3: Undergoing Medical Therapy
Step 1. Consult a doctor for a diagnosis
Minor injuries can heal on their own if treated properly. However, you don't know how serious the injury is if you don't consult a doctor. If a muscle injury is causing you pain, difficulty using the injured limb, or severe bruising and swelling, see your doctor for a diagnosis.
- Doctors are able to diagnose the cause of the injury by examining the patient's physical condition and performing scans with tools, such as X-rays and MRIs. After conducting an examination, the doctor can determine whether there is a broken bone and how severe the muscle injury is.
- Depending on the severity of the injury, your doctor may suggest a brace or splint to keep the injured limb from moving during the recovery period.
Step 2. Find information about physiotherapy
You may need physiotherapy if you have a severe muscle injury that won't heal. Physiotherapy helps you restore your muscles in the right way so that you can go back to your normal activities.
While undergoing physiotherapy, you will learn and perform movements as directed by a physical therapist. This movement is beneficial to increase muscle strength in a safe way and widen the range of motion
Step 3. See a doctor to find out the cause of the muscle problem
Torn muscles can lead to much more serious problems. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following problems:
- Compartment syndrome. If the muscles are very painful with numbness and tingling, the limbs are difficult to move and feel stiff, see a doctor immediately. Compartment syndrome is an orthopedic emergency that must be treated surgically within hours. Otherwise, the limb must be amputated. Call your doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms. Blood from the torn muscle presses on the blood vessels and nerves thereby blocking blood flow.
- The Achilles tendon is torn. The Achilles tendon is on the back side of the ankle and calf. Strenuous exercise can tear the Achilles tendon, especially in men over the age of 30. If you feel pain at the back of your foot, especially when you stretch your ankle, you may have torn the Achilles tendon. To fix this, the injured leg is wrapped in a cast and should not be moved at all.
Step 4. Seek medical help for a third-degree muscle injury
The limb cannot be moved if the muscle is broken. To overcome this, immediately see a doctor for therapy.
- The manner and duration of muscle recovery vary depending on the extent of the injury and the location of the muscle torn. For example, a severed bicep must be surgically reattached and only healed after 4-6 months. Minor injuries usually heal within 3-6 weeks.
- Depending on the severity of the injury, you may need to consult an orthopedic specialist or another specialist.
Step 5. Discuss surgical options to restore a severed or torn muscle
Sometimes, torn muscles or torn ligaments must be treated through surgery. Talk to your doctor about your preferred option if he or she suggests surgery as a solution to a muscle injury.
Torn muscles usually do not need surgery, except for professional athletes because their performance cannot return to normal if he does not undergo surgery
Step 6. See a doctor or physical therapist for a check-up
You will need to see a doctor or physical therapist during your recovery and after recovering from an injury to make sure your muscles are back to normal. Do not neglect this consultation schedule.