I get stopped all the time by very worried people, “I was working out and now this muscle hurts, did I injure it.”
Most of the time, all they’ve done is stained the muscle or maybe over work something but in a day or two the pain will go away.
I love hearing how people injure themselves...for instance, I had a mom of 4 call me very anxious that she could’ve just pulled a muscle in “my knee or maybe just the back of my leg.” “I can’t stand on my leg without pain. I don’t have time to see the doctor, let alone have surgery.” I asked her what happened?
She goes into a story of how she is in the process of moving. She was stacking boxes into a storage unit when she realized she needed something in a box on top of stack. This required her to climb to the top of the stack and reach really far across to another stack of boxes. She left one leg on the first stack and moved her other knee on the second box to get to the box she needed. However, when she was reversing this motion she felt a pop with instant searing pain in left leg, and started to panic.
After hearing this I was instantly impressed with this amazing image of the acrobatic feet she had just attempted. But then I started trying to calm her down by asking her questions.
Over the phone I was able to talk her through a few things.
In her case, there was just a little swelling so I told her to lie down with her leg elevated with a bag of peas on the area that hurts for about 10 minutes. I was able to fit her into my schedule to see what specifically could be the cause of the swelling and pain when she walked.
A mom of 4 young kids hearing that she has to “rest” and “stay off her leg” might as well be hearing she needs to climb mount Everest today. cuz it isn't happening....
We came up with a plan together that would help her body heal, while allowing her to take care of her kids without fearing she would injure herself further.
Now to get back to the original question…How do you know if you injured a muscle?
Having any of the above means you have an injury. Ie. if you have visual bruising, swelling, or loss of motion at a joint.
However, even having all three it doesn’t mean you need medication, injections, several images (xrays, MRIs or CT scans) or surgery.
So how do you know how serious your injury is?
You might think the way to tell the level of injury is by the amount of pain but… think about this…
Paper cuts are very painful BUT not a very serious injuries. On the other hand, completely tearing muscle from the bone only hurts for a few minutes AND that's a serious injury.
If you want to find the fastest way to know if you are injured or how severely you are injured is to have a hands on physical assessment from a specialist physical therapist. A physical therapist will listen to the story of how you injured yourself, complete a physical assessment then come up with a plan to get you back to your favorite activities without painkillers, injections or surgery!
WE HELP ACTIVE ADULTS OVERCOME THEIR ACHES AND PAINS TO GET THEM BACK TO THEIR FAVORITE ACTIVITIES WITHOUT MEDICATION, INJECTIONS OR SURGERIES.
Dr. Molly McDonald