Expert says think twice before skipping physical therapy
In terms of muscle strains, McNeal said there are three grades:
- Grade one strains are small injuries in the muscle where nothing is torn, but the fibers are disrupted. Return-to-play usually takes place after a couple of weeks of therapy.
- Grade two strains occur when some of the muscle tears, but the entire muscle is not torn. This usually requires anywhere from four to eight weeks of therapy.
- Grade three strains are when there is a complete tear in the muscle, which could require months of therapy or even surgery.
She noted that any injury that is not treated has the potential to get worse, so it is better to see a physical therapist right after the injury occurs. If patients come in as soon as the injury occurs, a physical therapist also can educate the patient in proper mechanics or movements and safe activities to help avoid injury or pain in the future.
“When patients wait to see a physical therapist for an injury, their muscles are weaker, so what would have taken two or three visits if they initially came in when they were injured will now take six weeks,” McNeal said.
Some issues only require one session with a physical therapist, who will then give instructions on exercises to do at home to return to regular activity.