Injuries to the muscles and tendons vary in severity but are quite common. A muscle or tendon can be strained, sprained or can cramp. Cramps are common in limbs but also internal organs such as the uterus during the menstrual cycle, bowels, blood vessels and the pylorus. This is when a continuous, involuntary and localized contraction of an entire muscle group, individual muscle or select muscle fibers happens, this is caused by rapid fire of motor neurons. This can be caused by overexertion in both cold and heat, such as swimmers in cold water or athletes exerting themselves in hot weather. When it comes to hot weather, it is typically due to a loss of salt. Causes of cramps can be heavy exercise, cold, dehydration, loss of electrolytes, low blood glucose or poor circulation (Saladin, 2020). Typical treatment for a cramp is stretching of the muscle or deep massage (Britannica). Straining a muscle is considered a painful overstretching of the tendon or muscle without serious tissue damage. This typically occur in muscles that cross two joints but is an injury to a muscle or bands of tissues connecting muscle to bone (Mayo Clinic, 2020). Hamstrings, calves and quadriceps are especially vulnerable but the hip adductors are also commonly affected (HSS, 2019). Muscle is surrounded by an outer sheath to move smoothly over tissue as it contracts and this is coordinated by the nervous system. Strains occur when the force on the muscle is so great that it tears within the muscle, at junctions of the muscle and joint or in the tendon (HSS). Muscles through tendon attachments at each end insert into the bone and provide the force for movement. Injuries commonly happen during excessive loading of the muscle, which is when the muscle is contracting while also elongating. Explosive actions such as sprinting or when increasing an exercise regimen can also cause strains. Old age, previous injury, lack of flexibility and fatigue all predispose people to these types of injuries. There are three levels of strains; level one: mild damage to individual fibers with minimal loss of strength and mobility, level two: more extensive damage but muscle is not completely ruptured and there is significant loss of strength and mobility, level three is the complete rupture of the muscle or tendon with a palpable defect that may not always be immediately assessed due to swelling and surgery may be needed. The signs and symptoms of a strain are sudden pain that increases with muscle contraction, swelling, bruising and loss of strength and mobility. Treatment typically includes R.I.C.E. which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. NSAIDS or anti-inflammatory drugs are also suggested with the possibility of physical therapy. A sprain is a torn ligament or tendon damage to muscles or other cartilage (Saladin, 2020). A sprain will injure the bands of tissue that connect two bones. The most common area to experience a sprain is in the ankle. Sprains to the ankle happen when walking or exercising on an uneven surface or an awkward landing while jumping. Other areas such as the knee will sprain if it pivots during an activity, wrist when you land with an outstretched hand while falling and the thumb due to over extension. Children are more likely to experience a fracture as opposed to a sprain due to softer tissue, growth plates, surrounding bone and the ligaments tend to be stronger. Signs and symptoms of a sprain are pain, bruising, swelling, limited mobility to affected joint. Severe sprains present with no mobility, cannot bear weight on affected joint, pain directly over bones or numbness. Treatment suggested again includes R.I.C.E and surgery if the ligament is torn.
In order to prevent these types of injuries, I think prevention is key. Whether it is ensuring that we had adequate intake of electrolytes, appropriate clothing for activities, being conscious of our surroundings, proper warm ups and other preventative measures such as muscle braces. I also feel that prompt treatment and understanding of these types of injuries and what causes them can circumvent more severe injuries or need for corrective surgeries. WC=684
Cramp. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/science/cramp
HSS. (2019, November 19). Muscle strain: What you need to know about pulled muscles. Hospital for Special Surgery. https://www.hss.edu/conditions_muscle-strain.asp
Kenneth S. Saladin, D. (2020). Anatomy & physiology: The unity of form and function (9th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.
Mayo Clinic. (2020, September 25). Sprains – Symptoms and causes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sprains/symptoms-causes/syc-20377938
NCBI. (2020, November 20). Muscle cramps – StatPearls – NCBI bookshelf. National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499895/