A muscle strain occurs when the muscle is overstretched or torn. This usually occurs as a result of muscle overuse, fatigue or improper use of a muscle. Strains can happen in any muscle, but they’re most common in your lower back, neck, shoulder and hamstring.
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.
In mild muscle strain, a torn muscle may feel slightly stiff, but still flexible enough for use. A severe muscle strain is when the muscle is severely torn. Severe muscle pain results in pain and very limited movement. The symptoms of mild to moderate muscle strains usually go away within a few weeks. More severe strains may take months to heal.
Causes of muscle strains
An acute muscle strain is when your muscle tears suddenly and unexpectedly. Such tears can occur either from injuries or trauma. This can be due to:
- not warming up properly before physical activity
- poor flexibility
- poor conditioning
- overexertion and fatigue
Symptoms of muscle strain
Usually one feels a muscle strain as it occurs. Symptoms include:
- sudden onset of pain
- muscle spasms
When to see a doctor?
For mild to moderate strains, home treatment should be enough. However, see medical attention if any of the following happens:
- You can’t move your arms or legs.
- You can’t walk.
- The injured area is numb.
- The pain doesn’t subside after a week.