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Distinguishing between different types of muscle injury

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by: icampbell
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Date: Mon, 6 Jun 2011 Time: 3:28 AM

Whether you're an active sportsman or you go for the occasional run, muscle injury can be a common and contracted affair. However, too often people confuse different kinds of muscle or musculoskeletal injuries - for example, mixing up a muscle strain with a sprain. There are various kinds of muscle injury, some of which can be cured simply and others that require the help of a physiotherapist. Here's a quick guide on how to distinguish between different types of muscle or musculoskeletal injuries.

One of the most common types of injuries experienced by sportsmen and the physically active is muscle strain. A muscle strain usually indicates injury to a muscle or tendon, the tissue which connects muscles to bones, and symptoms include localised swelling, cramping and inflammation. Some strains are caused simply by a muscle or tendon being overstretched, while others may be the result of a tear or rip. Common strains include back strain and hamstring strain, while elbow strain may be particularly prevalent in people who partake in racket sports or activities that involve constant throwing.

Sprains, on the other hand, involve ligaments rather than tendons or muscles. Ligaments join one bone to another and these are most commonly overstretched and sprained in the ankle and wrist. Symptoms of ligament sprain include pain, swelling and impaired function in the affected area and, like muscle strain, can vary in intensity. With both sprains and strains, it's important to take quick action to help the healing process before the injury develops into a chronic (long-term) condition. Chronic muscle injury can be severely disabling and affect a person's mobility and ability to play sports for the rest of their life.

Similar to sprains and strains is Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), a musculoskeletal condition that affects tendons and joints which are subjected to constant minor stretches. These can build up into a major strain over time and cause inflammation and pain. RSI may particularly affect those with poor posture, bad sleeping positions and people who carry heavy items on a regular basis. According to a 2008 study, 68 per cent of office workers in the UK suffered from some form of RSI, with injuries most common in the back, wrists and shoulders.

If you'd like more information on muscles and muscle injuries, speak to your doctor or physiotherapist who should be able to provide you with the necessary material. Keeping this information in mind should also help you distinguish between actual muscle injuries, which require a doctor's attention, and cramps which occur most often due to dehydration and insufficient warm-up before use. You can avoid cramps and minor muscle injuries by adequately warming up before exercise or sport. Accelerate your heart rate first by skipping or running on the spot and then doing some basic stretches to loosen up your muscles and make them more flexible.

The author of this article is a part of a digital blogging team who work with brands like Bupa. The contents of this article are of a general nature only and do not constitute specific advice.  This article does not take into account your circumstances or needs and must not be relied upon in place of appropriate professional advice.

About the Author

Isla Campbell writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.

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