What you need to know when you think you may have pulled a muscle.
Every muscle in your body can be subjected to a strain when you push too hard.
Often, these muscle strains are a consequence of overwork, exhaustion, or incorrect use of a muscle. The lower back, neck, shoulder, and hamstring muscles are common areas of concern.
If you have overexerted yourself, the first step is a physiotherapist.
Find a local physio in your area such as Edmonton physiotherapy, and book a consultation for treatment as a starting point.
Do I have a muscle strain?
Muscles strains ( a pulled muscle) will limit the movement of the affected area. The more severe the strain, the more limited the movement; a minor strain might feel stiff yet still relatively functional while a more serious strain could leave you in terrible pain with low mobility.
The recovery time frame for mild strains may take up to a few weeks while severe situations might span several months.
To confirm you’re suffering from a pulled muscle, look for the following symptoms:
- A sudden burst of pain
- Restricted movement
- A tight or tense feeling
- Twitching or cramping
- A sudden burst of pain
- Loss of strength or control
Contrary to popular belief, pulled muscles, muscle strains and tears do not only happen during intense exercise. They can happen to anyone at any time, even while walking or even sleeping.
Simple actions like jumping, running, heavy lifting, or lifting an object in an unnatural position could lead to a minor strain. Interestingly, muscles are more prone to strain in cold temperatures because they tend to be more rigid and inflexible. Hence, it is especially crucial to do warm-up stretches before exercising in cold weather.
For some, doing the same action repeatedly could lead to chronic muscle strains. Poor sitting or standing postures and playing intense sports such as tennis, golf, or baseball are possible causes of a pulled muscle.
Buy an anti-inflammatory cream or ointment like ibuprofen (Advil) from your local pharmacy and apply it to the area of concern to reduce swelling. If the pain is too much to bear, painkillers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help with pain relief.
As much as possible, encourage good blood circulation for a speedy recovery. You can do this by applying heat to the injured muscle with a warm towel or a heat pack after three days of rest.
If not too severe, pulled muscles or muscle strains can be attended to in the comfort of your home using the RICE method.
RICE means: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation, and it’s is a simple self-care technique that helps reduce swelling, ease pain, and speed up healing.
Rest – Get ample rest and take caution not to engage your strained muscle for a while especially if the movement induces unnecessary pain. However, start doing gentle movements to stimulate the affected muscle group after a few days of rest to prevent your muscles from becoming weak due to inactivity. Weakened muscles will delay the healing process and make it take longer than it should require.
Ice – Minimize bloating of the strained muscle by placing ice over it for about 20 minutes. For best results, use an ice bag or ice wrapped in a towel to avoid direct contact with your skin. Do this repeatedly every hour for the first day of strain, then every four hours for subsequent days.
Compression – Another method to help manage the swelling is to wear a bandage or wrap over the strained muscle. Take caution to not compress the region too tightly and ensure that there is still good blood circulation.
Elevation – Prop the area where you’ve been strained with a pillow and keep it in a resting position above your chest.
Seeking Medical Attention:
For acute muscle strains, self-treatment and a few days of rest should suffice. If there are no signs of healing or if the condition seems to worsen after a week of self-treatment, you should have a medical professional assess your injury and prescribe you appropriate treatment measures.
Some warning signs that you should visit a doctor include numbness, difficulty in moving your limbs, and/or bleeding from the area of concern.
A medical professional will have the necessary equipment and knowledge to give you a comprehensive physical examination to determine the severity of your strain.
On top of prescribing oral medication to reduce swelling and relief pain, doctors may arrange physical therapy sessions to help your recovery process if the condition of your strain is very serious.
Extreme cases could require surgical procedures to repair the torn muscle tissues.
Prevention is more important than treatment – knowing how to protect yourself from a potential muscle strain would save you from the misery of suffering. Take the following precautionary measures to avoid straining your muscles:
Take breaks – Avoid staying in the same position for prolonged periods of time – stand up and walk around the room to encourage blood circulation. Sit on chairs with good lower back support and try keeping your knees parallel to your hips.
Practice good posture – Whether sitting or standing, a good body posture goes a long way in maintaining a healthy body.
Take caution when lifting objects – Maintain a straight back while lifting objects and hold the weight as close to your body as possible. Never lift an object, especially if it’s heavy, and twist your back at the same time. This will place unnecessary stress on incorrect parts of your body, giving rise to the possibility of a muscle strain.
Prevent falls – Safeguard yourself from slipping or falling by watching your steps, wearing shoes, holding onto handrails for support while taking the stairs, and avoid slippery floors.
Keep fit – While an active lifestyle prevents your muscles from growing stiff and weak, staying physically fit is also generally good for your overall health.
Recovery – following appropriate care and treatment, your muscles strain will be better in just a matter of a few days or weeks. Speed up the recovery process by taking precautionary measures to avoid injuring the same area again. Heed your doctor’s advice and give yourself time to have complete recovery before engaging in intensive activities.
With this comprehensive guide on muscle strains, you can now stay calm and composed while performing first aid on yourself if you ever pull a muscle.