The majority of acute pain is caused by damage to the muscles and/or ligaments. While a muscle strain doesn’t sound like a serious injury, muscle pain can be severe and is the cause of many emergency room visits each year. In most people, this pain will last a short time, a few days to a couple of weeks.
There are two common types of muscle strain or sprain :
Muscle strains happen when the muscle is over-stretched or torn, resulting in damage to the muscle fibers (also called a pulled muscle).
Muscle sprains happens when ligaments are stretched too far or torn. Ligaments are very tough, fibrous connecting tissues that connect bones together.
For most muscle injuries, it doesn’t matter if it is a muscle strain or a ligament sprain that is causing the pain, since the treatment and prognosis for both are the same.
When muscles or ligaments strained or torn, the area around the muscles will usually become inflamed. Inflammation leads to spasm, and the spasms are what causes both severe pain and difficulty moving.
Pain caused by muscle strains is usually caused by any type of movement that puts undue stress. Frequent causes include lifting, twisting, or a sudden movement or fall.
Sports injuries are also a frequent cause of a pulled muscle, especially with sports that involve twisting or any types of sudden impact or jarring motions.
Pulled muscle symptoms range from a mild ache to sudden debilitating pain. Symptoms of a pulled muscle include some combination of the following; localized pain, the area may be sore upon touch, the pain usually comes on suddenly and may be accompanied with muscle spasms. Severe pain may resolve quickly, but a lower level of pain, or intermittent flare-ups of pain, may continue for a few weeks or months.
Initial treatments for pulled muscles can include some combination of; pain medication, anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, muscle relaxants, massage, and cold therapy.
Applying some type of cold therapy can help reduce inflammation, which is extremely helpful immediately following the injury. There are many theories why applying cold therapy after a muscle injury is beneficial. Some of the possible reasons include the following; decreased nerve transmission, cold reduces the activity of nerve endings, cold raises the pain threshold and causes a release of endorphins. Cold sensations over-ride the pain sensation - known as the pain gate theory.
Muscle spasm is often a response to pain. The muscles surrounding the injury contract to protect it. This is known as muscle guarding and it aims to prevent further damage. Ice, being useful for pain relief is therefore beneficial in reducing muscle spasms.
Patients want faster relief with less pain medication and the ability get back to their normal lives quickly. Cold therapy has proven to be the safest, most efficient form of non-medicine pain relief.
IsoComforter, Inc., located in South Florida, manufactures and delivers state-of-the-art cold therapy products nationwide for effective pain control after orthopedic injuries, shoulder pains, back surgery, ACL knee surgery, shoulder and rotator cuff surgery.