A muscle strain develops if a muscle is overly stretched or torn. Most cases are usually minor such as soreness that occurs after a rigorous workout or severe which necessitates surgery.
As a prevalent type of injury, a muscle strain can occur among athletes. It might be due to poor conditioning, incorrect warming up and fatigue.
When a muscle strain occurs, there is a snapping or popping sensation which is a feeling that the muscle is stretched out until it eventually snaps. This can be soreness that can affect the neck, lower back, shoulder and hamstring muscle.
When is treatment needed?
Once an individual ends up with a muscle strain, the treatment is aimed on relieving the pain, minimizing the risk for further injury, restore functionality and allowing the body to rest and heal.
If not treated, an individual is at risk for recurring injuries or pain and weakness of the muscle during daily use. Remember that it can be quite sore during exercise or engaging in athletic endeavors.
In some cases, surgery is needed to fix a torn muscle as opposed to one that has been strained. This is usually reserved as the last resort for treating muscle injuries.
Managing a muscle strain
What are the supplies that you need?
Most cases of muscle strains do not require medical care. When caring for one, all you need are the right supplies and a comfortable area to rest.
- Plastic bag
- Pain medications
- Compression bandage
Depending on the affected muscle, assistive devices might be required to stabilize the muscle particularly if one of the limbs are affected such as a sling, crutches, braces and a wheelchair.
What is the RICE method?
An effective and commonly used treatment for a muscle strain is the RICE method which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation.
- Rest allows the muscles to heal by avoiding any form of physical activity
- Ice the affected muscle by applying an ice pack 4-8 times throughout the day at 20 minutes at a time. Make sure that a barrier is placed between the pack and the skin.
- Compress the affected muscle using gentle pressure with an elastic bandage to minimize the inflammation and swelling.
- Elevate the affected limb above the heart to minimize the swelling. Utilize cushions or pillows to raise the limb while resting.
Medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs can also be given to reduce the pain and swelling. In some cases, physical therapy is also required. As for surgery, it is usually the last resort for torn or ruptured muscles.