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What is muscle strain?

A muscle strain is a type of injury to one or more muscles. A person is said to have a muscle strain when the muscle fibres undergo stretching or tearing. Most muscle strains are mild and the muscle fibres remain strong and intact. The muscle fibres stretch beyond its limits and tear only in a few cases of muscle strain.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

The main signs and symptoms of a muscle strain are:

What are the main causes?

The main causes of a muscle strain are:

  • Overstretching of hamstring muscles during activities like dancing or sprinting
  • Excessive twisting or jumping causes a strain in the back muscles
  • Sports injuries
  • Lifting heavy weights
  • Poor posture
  • Not warming up before physical activities

How is it diagnosed and treated?

A muscle strain is diagnosed by the following methods:

  • A doctor will ask you to note down symptoms experienced related to the movement and strength of the muscle.
  • Spasms, weakness and muscle tenderness will be checked and compared with the medical history.
  • An X-ray or MRI scan may be ordered, if needed.
  • Additional tests may be recommended to look for problems in the spinal cord and vertebral discs.

Muscle strains are treated using the following methods:

  • Rest, ice application, compression using a crepe bandage or cloth and elevation at or above heart level (RICE) is the most common method used to treat a muscle strain. These help to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Mild strains are treated using physical therapy that strengthens the muscle as the strain heals.
  • Severe muscle strains may need surgery, followed by physical therapy.
  • A doctor may also recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), painkillers or muscle relaxants to provide relief from swelling and pain.
  • Activity restrictions and use of cast, splint, wheelchair or crutches are other treatment options.
  1. Medicines for Muscle Strain
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References

  1. Health Harvard Publishing. Harvard Medical School [Internet]. Muscle Strain. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  2. University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester, NY; Sprains, Strains, Breaks: What’s the Difference?.
  3. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease. [Internet]. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; Sprains and Strains.
  4. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Muscle strain treatment.
  5. Noonan TJ,Garrett WE Jr. Muscle strain injury: diagnosis and treatment. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 1999 Jul-Aug;7(4):262-9. PMID: 10434080
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