Muscle Strains, Treatment and Prevention Advice

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May 20, 2008

Oh the aches and pains of Muscle Strains!

To my faithful Readers I am sorry that this is late. However, I do have a good excuse … I was CAMPING. The first time out of Camp Driveway with then new Jayco 232. Had some of the usual problems of the first time in a new rig, like blowing a fuse and not being able to find the TWO containers of replacement fuses we had gotten for just this problem. Oh, and did I say it rained at least part of 4 of the 5 Days we were out? So, you can see that we “experts” have the same problems everyone else does. Including the aches and pains of overdoing it.

Today, I can feel every one of those problems, too. The aches and pains of muscle strains are really kicking in. I guess I am also feeling sorry for myself because this weekend was my birthday. My age? Lets just say 40 is a fond memory and 50 is getting way too close. So, what are muscle strains? I am sure we have all felt them — the pain you get from overdoing it. The kind of thing when you were younger you might have woke up the next morning feeling stiff and sore for a hour or two. Which now somehow hurts more the day after, the day after the injury. They are muscle pains that come from straining our muscles by asking them to do more than we are used to doing or lifting heavier weights than we should. There is no deformity to the injured area, usually, to be honest, there is no swelling or discoloration even. What you have done is over-used the muscle and usually created small tears and/or lactic acid build-up in the muscles.

People with old muscle pulls and tears or circulation problems are more likely to have these kinds of problems than those without. Remember the young people only being stiff and sore for a few hours the next day? They do not have the old injuries to predispose them to these injuries and are usually in better shape. Also, those of us who are out of shape and who lead a sedentary (most of us!) lifestyle are more at risk for this injury.

Now, what can we do about them? Well, first make sure you do not have a muscle TEAR which produces severe pain and swelling to the injured muscle. Any attempt to do the same motion that caused the injury will cause major increase in pain; there will be swelling and often redness or bruising and, if the muscle is completely torn, you may have loss of motion/function. If this is what happened to you, please go seek medical help. Muscle tears may have to be surgically repaired or require other treatment or they can lead to blood clots and other life-threatening problems….

So, now if you have pain in one or more muscle groups with no deformity, swelling or discoloration, you probably have a muscle strain. So what do you do to cure it? Well, if you do nothing, it will heal all by itself. But you can make things a whole lot easier on yourself, and more comfortable also, if you medicate with a anti-inflammatory like Aleve (Naproxen Sodium) or ibuprofen or aspirin if you aren’t allergic to them. If you are allergic to them, Tylenol as a pain reliever is a good substitute. You can also alternate Hot and Cold compresses to the affected area about 1/2 hour at most at a time. Please do not fall asleep either on a hot pad or a cold pack and cause yourself further damage. That would defeat the whole purpose.

Now the nagging, that is directed at myself also, get out and walk those problems away… a mild exercise program with walking and maybe some light weight training will do wonders on cutting down on these types of injuries. Start slow and gradually increase the distance and amount, and you should feel better in the long run. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program, but most would love to see their patients go for a walk.

Oh, and you may also want to do what my grandfather used to do … he called it self-medication… at night he would have about 2 ounces of his favorite medication (usually Seagram’s) mixed with coke and ice before bed, said it made him sleep a whole lot better. But we will leave that up to you.

Your Obedient Servant,

Gary Smith, Jr.

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