“Can you be treated for a muscle tear by a physiotherapist? What relieves the pain and how long does the recovery take?”
Mark Chen, physiotherapist:
I would like to start with the following: everyone can use physiotherapy!
That said, the answer to your question depends on a number of factors. The location of the tear and the size, for example, are very decisive for the duration of the recovery. Someone who walks a lot in his daily life will need more recovery time for a tear in his calf muscle than someone who is sitting behind a desk.
The recovery of soft tissue proceeds in phases. There is a fixed time for the recovery. This cannot be accelerated but it can be optimized and certainly also be delayed. Give your body the time and opportunity to do its job.
The first phase of recovery is called the inflammatory phase. Think of an ankle that becomes thick and stiff when you have rolled it. Thickness, redness, heat, pain and stiffness characterize this phase, in which the body tries to create a safe environment for recovery.
This phase often takes three to five days.
In the phases that follow, the ‘proliferative phase’ and the ‘organization phase’, a new network of tissue is created. This can be compared with a wound on the skin. It must first be bridged. If there is a scab the body can repair the skin underneath. Then the crust falls off and you see new tissue.
That’s how it works with muscles too. As soon as the crack is bridged, the new tissue has to be stressed and adapted to the demands. The muscle will be ‘repaired’ again within three to five weeks, but the time to make the tissue completely stressable can take several months to a year!
I advise people to support the affected muscle with medical tape in the period that it can be less stressed. If the requirements you place on the tissue do not go beyond the general daily life, then, most likely you do not need physical therapy.
If you are an athlete or do a heavy job, that is a different story. It can make a huge difference if you hire a therapist or trainer to help you build your load capacity. My experience is that most clients become stronger than they were before.
Do not underestimate the capacity of your body, it is amazing if treated properly! Drink enough, rest enough and success with your recovery!