Treatment at home
Muscle strain typically involves varying degrees of injury to tiny blood vessels. The effects of swelling or local bleeding into the muscle can best be managed early on by applying ice packs to close the blood vessels and maintaining the strained muscle in a relaxed, stretched position. Heat can be applied to further relax the muscle when the swelling has lessened (in general, about 12-24 hours after the initial strain). However, the early application of heat can increase swelling and pain.
Note: Ice or heat should not be applied to bare skin. Always use a protective covering such as a towel between the ice or heat and the skin.
- Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) such as aspirin(Bufferin, Ecotrin) and ibuprofen (Advil) to reduce the pain and to improve one’s ability to move around. However, do not use aspirin in children with muscle strains.
- Protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation (known as the PRICE formula) can help the affected muscle. Here’s how: First, remove all constrictive clothing, including jewelry, in the area of muscle strain.
- Protect the strained muscle from further injury.
- Rest the strained muscle. Avoid the activities that caused the strain and any activities that are painful.
- Ice the muscle area (20 minutes every hour while awake). Ice is a very effective anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving agent. Small ice packs, such as packages of frozen vegetables or water frozen in foam coffee cups, applied to the area may help decrease inflammation.
- Compression can be a gently applied with an Ace or other elastic bandage, which can provide both support and decrease swelling. Do not wrap tightly.
- Elevate the injured area to decrease swelling. Prop up a strained leg muscle while sitting, for example.
- Activities that increase muscle pain or work the affected body part are not recommended until the pain has significantly gone away.
Medical treatment is similar to the treatment at home. The doctor, however, also can determine the extent of muscle and tendon injury and if crutches or a brace is necessary for healing. The doctor can also determine if a patient needs to restrict his or her activity, take days off work, and if rehabilitation exercises are required to help in recovery.
Muscle strain is injury to muscle as a result of strenuous activity. Almost anyone can put undue tension on muscles during the course of normal daily activities, with sudden, quick heavy lifting, during sports, or while performing work tasks. Muscle strain is sometimes referred to as muscle pull. A severe muscle strain can result in a muscle tear. The tearing of the muscle can also damage small blood vessels, causing local bleeding (with or without bruising) and pain.
What Are Muscle Strain Causes
Muscle strains can happen to anyone. They occur in the course of normal activities of the day or as a result of sudden use of a muscle with activity. Activities that can increase the risk of muscle strain include athletic activity in sports, with sudden acceleration or deceleration, throwing, quick and/or heavy lifting, sudden coughing, or injury of muscle while performing irregular work tasks. It is possible to strain any muscle that moves bones. Commonly strained muscles include the lumbar muscles, hamstring muscles of the posterior thigh, abdominal muscles, biceps muscles, triceps muscles, adductor muscles, quadriceps muscles of the thigh, triceps muscles, calf muscles, upper back muscles including trapezius and rhomboid muscles, neck muscles, and the intercostal muscles and oblique muscles of the chest.