The Ins and Outs of Muscle Strains


Have you been experiencing muscle pain? It’s possible you’re suffering from muscle strain, which is when the muscle or tendons around the muscle are damaged. You may have simply strained the muscle or you could have pulled or torn it, all of which will result in similar symptoms. Read on to find out how muscle strain occurs, how to treat it at home and when to see a doctor.


Causes of Muscle Strain

Have you been asking yourself, "Why do my muscles hurt?" Muscle strain can occur if you put pressure on the muscle, which can happen either during intense activity or your normal, daily routine. When you’re playing sports, lifting something heavy or carrying out regular tasks at work or at home, you can experience muscle strain. You may not even realize that what you’re doing is taxing your muscles, but even small movements can result in muscle strain. Athletes often suffer from muscle train, especially if their sport involves explosive movements like jumping or sprinting. The force required by the muscles to do these movements can put strain on the muscle. If the problem is more serious – if there’s a tear in the tendons or fibers attached to the muscle – you’ll experience more severe muscle strain symptoms. Muscle tears result in nerve irritation and damage to the small blood vessels, which in turn cause bleeding, pain or bruising.


Symptoms of Muscle Strain

Have you been wondering, "How do I know if I have a muscle strain?" There are a few common symptoms of muscle strain to look out for: 

  • Bruising, redness or swelling
  • Difficulty using the muscle
  • Muscle weakness or weakness of the tendons
  • Pain when using the muscle or joint
  • Pain even when resting


At-Home Treatment for Muscle Strain

If you have swelling at the injury site, you may be able to manage it with the use of ice packs. It’s also important that the muscle remains stretched. Once the swelling goes down, it’s okay to apply heat. Keep in mind, though, that if you apply heat too early, you may actually be in more pain or increase the amount of swelling. When applying ice packs or heat, never put them directly on bare skin. Instead, cover the ice or heat pack with a towel or another type of cover. To help with pain and make it easier to get around, you can take an over-the-counter pain relief cream or Emu Oil, which is a natural way to relieve muscle strain. It’s best to avoid NSAIDS whenever possible, especially if you have gastrointestinal bleeding or kidney disease, or if you’re currently taking any type of blood thinner.


Also, use the PRICE treatment, which stands for protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation. The first step is to get rid of any clothing or jewelry that’s restrictive. Then move on to the five steps. 

Click on each step to learn more about each one.


You want to make sure that the muscle is protected from getting any more injured. To do this, wear a support (this is different from the “compression” step). For example, if your ankle is strained, wearing supportive shoes can help keep your ankle straight to avoid further injury.
Make sure to give your muscle plenty of rest by avoiding any activity that’s painful or that can cause more strain. You also want to avoid the activity that caused the muscle strain in the first place, which may mean changing your daily routine or taking time off work. Rest for the first 48 to 72 hours after getting hurt. If you can’t stay at rest the entire time, you may be able to use crutches so that your muscles stay at rest even as you move around.
When icing your muscle, use an ice pack for 20 minutes out of every hour during your waking hours. The ice will help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Small ice packs are best because they can directly target the injury point. Ice your injury for 48 to 72 hours after injury. Make sure to not leave the ice on your injury while you sleep.
You also want to make sure to apply compression using some type of elastic bandage, which will help support your muscle and bring down the swelling. Just make sure that you don’t wrap your muscle too tightly. Compression helps prevent any type of movement that can further strain the muscle and it also helps to keep the swelling down. You can easily find an elastic bandage at a pharmacy. Make sure to remove it before going to bed.
Elevate the muscle to bring down swelling; if possible prop the muscle up on a pillow when resting. One to two pillows is a good height. Don’t elevate your leg for a long duration of time, though. Every hour, make sure to bring the muscle down to normal height to give it a break from elevation.


Medical Care for Muscle Strain

If your muscle strain or pulled muscle isn’t serious enough to require surgery, your doctor may decide that a brace or crutches will help the muscle heal. You may also be directed to restrict activity or stay home from work during recovery. It’s also possible that physical therapy or rehabilitation will be needed to help you recover. If you notice a popping sound at the injury site, are unable to walk, have a fever, have open cuts or have major swelling or pain at the injury site, it’s important to seek emergency help immediately. If you’ve tried home remedies for a full 24 hours but have not had any relief, it’s important to contact your doctor.


Preventing Muscle Strain

Once you’ve healed from a strained muscle, you want to make sure to prevent future injury. Stretch every day, especially before and after intense physical activity. When stretching before a workout, warm up for a few minutes first. Talk to your doctor about an exercise program that will help prevent muscle injury. If you’re an athlete, changes to your diet can prevent muscle strain. For the two days before a game or event, make sure to eat carbohydrates, which provide your muscles with the energy they need for contractions. When your muscles don’t have the energy they need, they become fatigued, which makes them more prone to injury.


Often, people are able to make a full recovery after a muscle injury, so long as they follow proper pulled muscle treatment protocol. If your case is very serious, make sure to see a doctor right away to avoid long-term damage.






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