Our team of MSK Physiotherapists, Sports Therapists and Personal Trainers can provide a comprehensive assessment and treatment plan. Each plan is specifically designed to meet the needs of the individual and may include:
Muscles, tendons and ligaments are soft tissues within our bodies which perform movement and aid stability.
Muscles come in three forms: skeletal, cardiac and smooth. The cardiac muscle is found in the heart and is an involuntary muscle (it works without us thinking about it). Smooth muscle is found in our internal organs (such as the bladder) and aids healthy bodily functions. These are also involuntary muscles. Skeletal muscles are found all over the body and contain a multitude of tiny fibres which slide together to contract and shorten the muscle to generate movement. This movement is possible due to the presence of tendons (tough bands of connective tissue) which attach the muscles to bones. Ligaments are different in that they appear as woven bands that attach from bone to bone at either side of a joint, providing stability.
As skeletal muscles’ primary role is to generate movement, injuries most often occur because of physical activity or exercise. An injury occurs when filaments within the muscle fibres are separated, causing pain and inflammation, usually following an over-stretch, direct impact or wound to the muscle. When this occurs, it is called a strain. Such injuries are categorised according to their severity:
Grade 1 – Mild muscle strain when less that 5% of the muscle is damaged.
Grade 2 – More severe muscle strain with greater than 5% of the muscle damaged.
Grade 3 – Severe muscle strain with significant or even complete tear of the muscle fibres.
Grade 1 and grade 2 muscle strains may recover with rest, compression and elevation, but where pain and weakness persist physical therapy may assist in completing the recovery.
Grade 3 muscle strains are a more significant injury and will often require a visit to hospital, in some cases requiring immobilisation or surgery. Physical therapy is then essential to ensure full recovery.
Injuries to muscles can be prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and bodyweight, completing a thorough warm up and cool down before and after exercise, and performing regular stretching and strengthening exercises to maintain the range and strength of the muscles.
A tendon injury is damage or inflammation located within the soft-tissue structure that helps to connect muscle to bone. Due to overuse or age-related degeneration, tendon injuries have become a common problem.
Tendonitis (acute inflammation of a tendon) or tendinosis (long term inflammation of a tendon) are terms used to describe tendon injuries. This is usually related to ‘overuse’ or repetitive actions, tendonitis often a result of a short-term increase in a repetitive action that an individual is not used to (such as spending a day redecorating and suffering pain in the tendon of your elbow) and tendinosis more from long term overuse (such as pain in one of the tendons of the shoulder in a plasterer).
More severe tendon injuries can occur due to trauma, where the tendon can become separated from the bone or the muscle, or tear within its own length. Like muscle injuries, tendon injuries are graded on a three-level system and can require similar interventions as muscles, however they can be more troublesome to heal due to reduced blood supply compared to muscles. Physical therapy can assist in the recovery from tendon injury by reducing pain and scar tissue (the build up of new tissue in response to the body’s healing processes) and progressively increasing strength, range of movement, and return to full activities.
Tendon injuries can be prevented by avoiding highly repetitive movements, especially those performed in awkward positions, regular stretching, the use of aids and braces and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and bodyweight.
Ligaments are termed ‘non contractile’, which means the have a fixed length and do not shorten and lengthen in response to movements of the body (unlike muscles and tendons). As a result, injuries to ligaments are often caused by trauma, such as falls. Ligament injuries are called sprains. Sprains are graded on a similar rating scale to muscle and tendon injuries. However, unlike muscle and tendon injuries, ligaments heal more slowly due to a further reduced blood supply and once over stretched will often remain slightly longer than before. Therefore, even when only a mild ligament sprain occurs, physical therapy can be very useful to help in restoring stability to the joint affected by increasing the strength and balance of the muscles in the area of the injury and allow the individual to safely return to their previous activities.
Ligament injuries can be prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and bodyweight, maintaining a good sense of balance, and using strapping and supports if you are entering an environment when unexpected trauma may occur (such as playing sports).