A muscle strain takes place when you overstretch or tear your muscle. Generally, this happens due to fatigue or overuse of a muscle. Muscle strains are common in the shoulder, hamstring, neck and lower back.
You may experience considerable pain and restricted movement after a muscle strain.
- muscle spasms
- restricted movement
In case of a mild strain, your torn muscle feels a bit stiff, but moves easily. However, you may experience significant pain and limited movement when the muscle is significantly torn.
If the symptoms are due to mild or moderate muscle strains; they generally subside after a few weeks. But severe muscle strains may require a longer time or even months to recover.
When a muscle tears unexpectedly and suddenly, the condition is referred to as acute muscle strain. These tears are usually due to trauma and injuries or poor flexibility. Sometimes, they are caused by fatigue and overexertion of your muscles.
Chronic muscle strains are due to repetitive movements. Most common in athletes, these strains are caused during sports such as baseball, golf or tennis. If you hold your neck or back in an uncomfortable positions for extended time periods, then you are likely to experience these strains. People who sit at their desk for prolonged hours may also experience chronic muscle strains.
Most muscle strains are successfully treated at home by following these remedies:
Applying ice can greatly relieve swelling and pain in case you injure your muscle accidentally. Use a towel to wrap the ice and keep it on your muscle for 20 minutes, until you get relief.
You can also wrap the area using an elastic bandage to reduce swelling. Avoid wrapping it too tightly so you don’t affect your blood flow.
Resting is one of the best ways to take care of a strained muscle. But too much rest also causes the muscles to get weak. Try to use the affected muscle group, after resting for a couple of days. But make sure you don’t’ overdo it.
Many popular anti-inflammatory medications also keep the swelling and pain down. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are the best medicines for treating pain due to a strained muscle.
Recovery and Prevention
When you resume your normal activity, you should warm up and stretch before exercising. Since, it helps to support the blood flow to your muscles; you will greatly reduce any risk of muscle injury.
It is important to monitor your symptoms. Most types of strains are easily treated at home. However, medical attention may be required in case the pain fails to drop after a week or two. If you experience severe pain while moving the affected area, it is best to consult a doctor.
A qualified physician will assess your case with imaging tests and a physical examination. Moreover, MRI scans and X-rays may also help to assess the level of your injury.
Your doctor will most likely prescribe physical therapy and medications to treat your muscle strains.