What are muscle strains?
A muscle strain, or pulled muscle, occurs when the bodies muscle is overstretched or torn. This usually occurs as a result of fatigue, overuse, or improper use of a particular muscle. Strains can happen in any muscle, but they’re most common in your lower back, neck, shoulder, and hamstring, which is the muscle behind your thigh.
These strains can cause pain and may limit the movement within the affected muscle group. Mild to moderate strains can be successfully treated at home with ice, heat, and anti-inflammatory medications. Severe strains or tears may require medical treatment.
Symptoms of muscle strains
You’ll usually feel a muscle strain as it occurs. Symptoms can include:
• sudden onset of pain
• limited range of movement
• bruising or discoloration
• a “knotted-up” feeling
• muscle spasms
In a mild strain, a torn muscle can feel a little stiff, but still flexible enough for use. A severe muscle strain is where the muscle is severely torn this results in pain and very limited movement in the affected area.
The symptoms of mild to moderate muscle strains usually go away within a few weeks. More severe strains can take a few months to heal.
Causes of muscle strains
An acute muscle strain is when your muscle tears suddenly and or unexpectedly. Such tears can occur either from injuries or trauma. Which can be due to:
• not warming up properly before physical activity
• poor flexibility
• poor conditioning
• overexertion and fatigue
An acute strain can happen when you:
• slip or lose your footing
• throw something
• lift something heavy
• lift something while in you’re in an awkward position
Acute muscle strains are also more common in cold weather. This is because muscles are stiffer in lower temperatures. It’s important to take extra time to warm up in these conditions to prevent strains.
Chronic muscle strains are the result of repetitive movement. This can be due to:
• sports like rowing, tennis, golf, or baseball
• holding your back or neck in an awkward position for long periods of time, such as when you work at a desk
• poor posture
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