When the muscle fibers tear caused by the overstretching of the muscles, a strain occurs. This is also known as a pulled muscle. On the other hand, when the ligament is torn, it is called sprain. This can occur in the form of partial or complete tearing of the muscle
fibers and the tendons attaching the muscles together.
Causes of muscle strain
Muscle strains may occur while performing normal daily activities. When strenuous activity is performed by a muscle, tearing may occur. Some of these activities include:
- Sports training or performance, thus making more athletes prone to strains
- Quick and sudden heavy lifting
- Performing work tasks
Signs and symptoms of muscle strain
- Damage in the small blood vessels leading to local bleeding or bruising and skin discoloration
- Swelling and redness
- Localizes stiffness
- Open cuts caused by injury
- Pain even while at rest due to irritation of nerve endings in the affected region
- Pain when the affected muscle or joint associated with the muscle is used
- Weakness of tendons and/ or muscles
- Incapability of using the muscle
To lessen the pain and improve capability to move, painkillers may be taken such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Anti-inflammatory medications may also be taken to reduce swelling in the affected area. However, it is always better to seek medical advice before taking any medications.
Strains can often be treated at home using first aid and self-care techniques. These techniques are comprised of two acronyms to remember in treating strains: PRICE therapy and avoid HARM.
- Protect the strained muscle from any further injury
- Use a support or anything that increases protection
- Rest strained tendon or muscle and avoid any activity that lead to the strain and any other painful activity.
- Avoid activity for 48 to 72 ours
- Apply ice over the affected muscles for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours while awake. Make sure that ice is not directly applied to the skin and use a towel to wrap it.
- The ice should not be left on the injured wound while asleep.
- Bandage or compress the affected area to minimize swelling and movement which may lead to further damage. It should be firmly tied but not tight to ensure blood flow.
- The bandage should be removed before sleeping.
- Raise the injured area and support on a pillow to help minimize swelling.
In the first 48 to 72 hours, HARM must be avoided to prevent further damage to the affected muscle.
- May lead to increase in pain and swelling
- Can only be applied when there is significant decrease in swelling
- Increases bleeding and swelling
- Decreases healing
- Any form of exercise may lead to further damage
- May increase bleeding and swelling
In most medical situations, first aid training and CPR may be used. Particularly, athletes and those who work with them should be knowledgeable of proper treatment in cases emergencies may arise. workplace approved programs offer first aid and CPR courses which are offered to educate the athletes and the whole community in cases of muscle and bones injuries, such as in strains.