From muscle complaint to muscle strength

Everything you need to know about a muscle tear and physical therapy.

A common injury among avid athletes is a muscle tear. This injury can lead to pain, decreased mobility and often causes considerable discomfort also in daily life. On average, we know that a muscle tear can heal completely within 6 weeks. However, this does depend on where the tear is located. Some types of muscle tears have a longer rehabilitation time needed. Also, if the tear is at an unfavorable location in the muscle, the likelihood of re-injury is greater.

Fysio Fitaal in Tilburg physiotherapy for muscle tear
Anatomy

Muscles are responsible for movement in our body and can therefore shorten and lengthen for this reason. A muscle is made up of different muscle fibers that are controlled by nerve signals. These contractions provide strength and thus allow us to move. Muscles are attached to bone by tendons. 

Tendons are solid connective tissue structures that anchor the muscle to the bone, so to speak. Besides thus fixing the muscle to the bone, they also play a role in transferring forces. The interplay between muscles and tendons is essential for fluid and controlled movements. In addition, muscles and tendons adapt to varying forces that come on the body in sports or in everyday life in order to injuries prevent. 

Fysio Fitaal in Tilburg physiotherapy for muscle tear

Muscles and tendons themselves consist of several layers or parts. Below is a schematic overview: 

Muscle tissue: 

Muscle belly is the central part of the muscle and consists of muscle fibers. This structure is well supplied with blood and in turn consists of smaller units within a muscle.

  • Muscle fibers are the smallest units of a muscle. They are made up of myofibrils, which in turn are made up of actin and myosin filaments. These contract to produce muscle strength. 
  • Endomysium is the connective tissue surrounding the muscle fibers and is the deepest layer of the 3 connective tissue layers surrounding the muscle. 
  • Perimysium is the second connective tissue layer and includes groups of muscle fibers called fascicles. 
  • Epimysium is a layer of connective tissue that envelops the entire muscle and in this way distinguishes it from other muscles. 

Tendon tissue

In particular, tendons consist of collagen fibers that are strong and tensile. These fibers are designed to properly transfer forces from the muscles to the bone where the tendon attaches. 

  • Some tendons are surrounded by a tendon sheath, which contains a thin layer of mucous-like fluid to prevent friction and keep the tendon moving smoothly. 
  • Tendon tissue spills over into muscle tissue, or vice versa. It just depends on which side you look at it from. 
  • Endotenon is the deepest layer of tendon tissue. It allows some, but very little movement. This portion is slightly perfused and also contains nerve tissue. 
  • Peritenon is the middle layer of tendon tissue and also contains multiple bundles of tendon fibers. 
  • Epitenon is the outer layer of the tendon that covers the entire tendon. 

In general, the recovery time of that muscle belly is the least and the recovery time of the tendon is the longest. On average, a muscle tear can recover within 6 weeks. Often we see that the more the damage is in or around the tendon the longer the recovery time, with 3 months being the lower limit. 

For quick rehabilitation, get there in time! 

Prompt correct diagnosis is very important for successful treatment, unfortunately this is still a missed. This is where ultrasound within physical therapy can play an important role. Ultrasound is a valuable addition within physical therapy to achieve a more objective and focused diagnosis and can reduce the need for costly additional testing. Performing ultrasound examinations more frequently gives us even more information about the actual damage in the muscle. Our experience is that a one-time examination shows a less complete picture than when the same complaints are followed up more often by means of ultrasound. One reason for this is that it can be difficult to fully expose the injury in its early stages because of swelling and other reactions of the body that occur shortly after the moment of onset. 

physio fitaal physiotherapy
The most ideal times to have an ultrasound are: 

48 hours after occurrence, we can make a statement about whether or not a muscle is damaged. Very briefly: crack or no crack.  

After 7-10 days after the emergence moment, we can evaluate how the injury is recovering and whether adjustments may need to be made in the treatment plan. This moment is very important to make a statement about the recovery time of the injury. Also to prevent worse by, for example, wanting to start sports again too soon.  

Further examination after this initial phase depends on the type of injury and personal needs. Ultimately, of course, the goal of these examinations is to get back to sports as soon as possible without taking unnecessary risks! 

In short, a muscle tear can be challenging for avid athletes. Understanding the anatomy, as well as the importance of early diagnosis, is crucial for quick recovery. Starting the rehabilitation process early and monitoring the injury properly is very important and reduces the risk of a recurring injury. So listen carefully to the advice of your physical therapist and stick to the prescribed treatment plan. All this to be able to get back to worry-free sports

physio fitaal physiotherapy
Ruben Luijkx

Owner Physio Vital
Physical therapist, MSC. Manuel therapy

With a solid foundation in scientific knowledge, Ruben combines the latest insights with his practical experience to ensure the best results. As owner of Physio Fitaal, Ruben has created a patient-centered environment that works with innovative techniques and a data-driven approach. Whether you are an elite athlete looking to return to the field or someone recovering from knee surgery, Ruben will guide you to a full recovery, with attention to your individual needs and goals.

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