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Muscle Strain

Last updated: October 23, 2017

What Does Muscle Strain Mean?

A muscle strain is an injury of a muscle or tendon caused by tearing or over-stretching.

It occurs as results of fatigue, overuse, or improper use of the muscle. While any muscle group can be affected, it is particularly common in the muscles of the lower back, neck, shoulders, and thighs.

Muscle strains can develop as a result of accidents, strenuous physical activity, sports, heavy lifting, or lifting while the body is in an awkward position.

Muscle strain is also known as a pulled muscle.

Safeopedia Explains Muscle Strain

Symptoms of muscle strain include:

  • Sudden pain
  • Restricted range of motion
  • A knotted up feeling in the affected area
  • Stiffness
  • Muscle spasms

Treating a Pulled Muscle

Simple strains can be treated at home with ice, heat, and anti-inflammatory medications. Severe strains may require medical treatment following a formal diagnostic process.

Depending on the severity of the injury and the recovery methods used, muscle strains can take anywhere from a week to a few months to heal.

Treatments for muscle strains include the following:

  • The RICE method
    • Rest (avoid using the affected muscle)
    • Ice (apply ice immediately after the injury occurs)
    • Compression (wrap the affected area with an elastic bandage)
    • Elevate (if possible, keep the injured muscle raised above heart level)
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Applying heat to the affected muscle several times a day (usually beginning two days after the incident)
  • Light stretching to reduce stiffness

Preventing Muscle Strains

Muscle strains can affect various areas of the body and be caused by a number of different stressors on the muscles or tendons. However, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of muscle strain, including:

  • Warming up before physical activity
  • Stretching before engaging in physical work or sports
  • Staying in shape - strong muscles can bear more stress and heal more quickly
  • Organizing workstations to limit reaching or bending
  • Using safe lifting techniques


Pulled Muscle

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