What is Meant By a Pulled Muscle?
A pulled muscle is also known as muscle strain, which occurs when the muscle is stretched too far; or when there is sudden or extensive pressure on the muscle leading to tears within the muscle fibers.
What Causes a Pulled Muscle?
A pulled muscle can occur while doing any activity or as a result of fatigue or muscle overuse, suddenly lifting something very heavy or any explosive movement.
Grades of a Pulled Muscle
A pulled muscle or a strain can be very painful during movement and is graded by severity.
- Grade-1 Pulled Muscle. There is mild discomfort, with no disability. In grade 1 muscle pull, there is no activity limitation.
- Grade-2 Pulled Muscle. There is moderate discomfort in grade-2 muscle pull, with a certain limitation to perform a high-level activity. There might be swelling and bruising associated with grade-2 muscle pull.
- Grade-3 Pulled Muscle. There is a severe injury to the muscle, with significant pain. The patient complains of muscle spasm, bruising and swelling in grade-3 muscle pull.
What is the Treatment for a Pulled Muscle?
R.I.C.E Method For Treating A Pulled Muscle. After a muscle pull, immediately take up the R.I.C.E method for recovery.
Rest. Depending on the severity of the muscle pull, the time period of rest can last for 1 to 5 days. Immobilization is not necessary, as it can lead to muscle stiffness.
Ice. Application of ice can help in reducing swelling, bleeding and pain caused by the pulled muscle. Application of ice should begin as soon as the muscle is pulled and should be done frequently.
Compression. Bandaging the area of pulled muscle can help reduce swelling and stop the bleeding, if any. Make sure the bandage is not too tight, as it would interrupt the blood flow.
Elevation. Raising the injured part of pulled muscle above the heart reduces pain, throbbing, and any internal bleeding that can lead to a bruise.
Anti-Inflammatory Medicines to Treat a Pulled Muscle. Anti-inflammatory drugs help reduce the inflammation, which leads to swelling and pain in the affected area. Be sure you have doctor’s advice for the same.
Muscle Strengthening to Treat a Pulled Muscle. Strengthening of the muscles is necessary to return to any athletic activity and to avoid the recurrence of muscle injury. Stronger muscles are less likely to get injured again.
Treat a Pulled Muscle with Heat Application. Heat application helps reduce muscle stiffness. Applying heat on the muscles and the body reduces the susceptibility of the muscle to sustain injury.
Pulled Muscle: When To Seek Medical Attention
When suffering from a pulled muscle, do not delay a doctor’s advice if:
- The injured area looks cool, pale or you observe a change in color.
- If after a day or two you are not able to put weight on the affected limb.
- There is tingling or numbness present along with muscle pull.
- If you are confused about how to perform the exercise properly, which is also very important for recovery.
How to Prevent a Pulled Muscle?
Avoid muscle fatigue, as fatigued muscles are more likely to get injured. Muscles help absorb energy and restore strength, which helps prevent muscle fatigue. Listen to your body and always rest if the body seems tired.
Warming up before any sport or athletic competition is necessary to prevent any muscle injury. Performing with a stiff muscle can lead to muscle pull or strain.
A physical therapist is often recommended in severe cases of pulled muscle, which require muscle strengthening exercises. A physical therapist performs the exercises with perfection and also educates the patient on the same.
Pulled muscle takes 24 hours to recover and depending on the severity, the recovery time from a pulled muscle can extend up to 5 days. If the pain from a muscle pull does not lessen after trying the above techniques, it is recommended to consult a doctor.