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A muscle strain, also known as a pulled muscle, is a common injury that occurs when a muscle or its tendon is stretched beyond its normal capacity, resulting in damage to the muscle fibres. Muscle strains can range in severity from mild to severe and can occur in any muscle in the body.
Common causes of muscle strains include overuse, improper warm-up or stretching, and sudden, forceful movements. Symptoms of a muscle strain may include pain, swelling, stiffness, and difficulty moving the affected muscle.
Treatments for muscle strain
Here are some treatments that can help with muscle strain recovery:
- Rest: The first and most important step in the recovery of a muscle strain is to rest the affected muscle. Avoid any activities that cause pain or discomfort, and give the muscle time to heal. Depending on the severity of the strain, this could range from a few days to several weeks.
- Ice: Applying ice to the affected area can help to reduce swelling and pain. Use an ice pack wrapped in a towel and apply it to the affected area for 10-15 minutes at a time, several times a day.
- Compression: Compression can help to reduce swelling and support the affected muscle. Use an elastic bandage to wrap the affected area, but be careful not to wrap it too tightly.
- Elevation: Elevating the affected area above heart level can help to reduce swelling and improve circulation. Prop up the affected limb with pillows or a cushion.
- Physiotherapy: A physiotherapist can develop a customized treatment plan to help you recover from a muscle strain. Treatment may include exercises to improve flexibility and strength, manual therapy, and modalities such as heat or ultrasound.
Physiotherapy and stretching exercises may also be recommended to help promote healing and prevent future injuries. Once the muscle has healed, gradually return to your normal activities can begin, starting with gentle exercises and gradually increasing intensity over time. Muscle strains can be painful and inconvenient, but with proper treatment and care, most people can recover fully and return to their normal activities.
Role of physiotherapist in the prevention of muscle strain
Your physiotherapist may advise the following steps to prevent the occurrence of muscle strain:
- Advise on proper warm-up and cool-down exercises.
- Treatment of muscle tightness and fatigue to ensure full joint range of motion.
- Prevention of muscle strength imbalances.
- Prevention of reinjury.
It’s important to follow your doctor’s or physiotherapist’s recommendations for treatment and to avoid returning to physical activity too soon, as this can lead to reinjury or further damage. Your doctor or physician may prescribe over the counter medication to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.