A strain refers to the stretching or tearing of a muscle or tendon as a result of excessive pulling during physical activity. Tendons are bands of tissue that connect muscles to bones.
Symptoms of a strain include: change in color and bruising around the muscle or tendondecreased range of motion in nearby jointsdifficulty moving the injured areajoint painmuscle spasmmuscle weaknessswelling around the muscle or tendon
Most strains are caused by excessive physical activity. Some common causes of strains include the following: fallsmotor vehicle accidentsobesity or overweightoverstretching, such as during an exercise warm-up sessionrunning on an uneven surfacesports injurieswork-related injuries, such as lifting injuries and repetitive stress injuries
An individual can lower the risk of strain by: avoiding alcohol or drugs when driving, operating machinery, exercising, or playing sportsbuilding muscles through a regular conditioning programdoing daily stretching exerciseseating a healthy diet, following the food guide pyramidestablishing an ergonomic workstation and using good body mechanicsfollowing sports safety guidelines for children, adolescents, and adultsmaintaining a healthy weightwarming up before sports and planned exercisewearing seat belts in all moving vehicleswearing shoes or boots that fit well and are appropriate for the planned activity
Diagnosis of a strain begins with a medical history and physical examination. Occasionally, X-rays may be ordered to rule out bone fractures.
Apply the RICE technique: Rest, Ice, Compression and Immobilization, and Elevation. Rest means to restrict movement and weight-bearing in the injured area. A splint can be used if necessary.Ice refers to the application of an ice pack or cold compress to the affected area.Compression involves placing a bandage lightly around the injured area to decrease swelling. Immobilization means to avoid unnecessary movement of the affected area, particularly weight-bearing activity.Elevation means to keep the injured area raised above the heart if possible.
Medicines that reduce pain and inflammation, such as aspirin or ibuprofen (i.e., Advil, Motrin), may be taken. Aspirin should never be given to children 18 years of age or younger, since it is associated with a disorder known as Reye syndrome.
Pain medicines and anti-inflammatory medicines may cause stomach upset or allergic reaction.
If a certain activity causes repeated muscle strains, a person should strengthen the muscles in a way that does not cause continual damage. A healthcare provider can recommend an exercise program or physical therapy. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.