A muscle strain can also be referred to as a pulled muscle and it occurs when a muscle has been stretched too far. A pulled muscle actually consists of small tears within the muscle and it happens more commonly as people age. In most cases, people pull a muscle from overexertion, or from not warming up before exercising.
How Can You Tell if a Muscle is Pulled?
If you have pulled a muscle it is usually evident within 24-48 hours of the injury taking place. A pulled muscle is usually accompanied by:
- Acute, jabbing pain
- Limited movement
- Sudden pain felt in the affected area
How are Muscle Strains Medically Graded?
Muscle strains and injury are graded according to different parameters which include the following:
- Grade I: mild pain, often no disability. Usually does not result in limited mobility.
- Grade II: moderate discomfort, can limit someone’s ability to perform high level activities.
- Grade III: severe injury, extreme pain. Often people will have swelling, bruising and muscle spasms.
What are The Best Ways to Heal a Pulled Muscle?
- Ice: Applying ice will help reduce pain, inflammation and swelling. Ice application should start as soon as possible after injuring the muscle. A person should apply ice frequently, but not for more than 15 minutes at a time.
- Massaging: Massaging a pulled muscle will help improve healing time and stimulates blood flow to the damaged area. When a pulled muscle is massaged, it provides tension relief, heat and helps to reduce the swelling. It is important to do gentle massaging and not to become aggressive, because it could further injure the inflamed muscle even worse.
- Elevate: Propping up a pulled muscle will reduce inflammation in the area. It is important to keep the injury above heart level by propping it on pillows. Propping up a pulled muscle will help move fluid away from the impacted area.
- Anti-inflammatory medications: An anti-inflammatory medication will help reduce swelling and pain in a pulled muscle. These medications have potential side effects, so it is important to take only as recommended and to seek assistance from a medical professional if you have any questions. You can always choose to go natural.
- Heat application: Applying heat will help relieve the pain caused by a pulled muscle. Applying heat will help eliminate stiffness and help a person gain back mobility in the injured area more quickly.
- Gentle stretching: It is a good idea to follow up heat application with some gentle stretching. Stretching gently will help the muscle gain mobility, flexibility and strength. Use of gentle stretching exercises will help the muscle get used to being used again and prevents further injury of the same area in the future.
- Rest: Getting adequate rest is very important to the healing of a pulled muscle. It is not necessary to be immobile, but you should not do anything that is physically uncomfortable. If you have a splint or cast, you should be under careful physician supervision and follow any instructions or treatment recommended.
- Soaking: By soaking in a warm bathtub filled with Epsom salts for 10-15 minutes, you will help reduce the pain and swelling of a pulled muscle. When a person soaks in warm bathtub, it will help ease muscle stiffness and promote mobility to the affected area.
- Warming up before exercising: When a person is ready to return to normal activities, it is very important to warm up and stretch before exercising. Warming up before any strenuous activity is imperative, because it will drastically reduce the chances of reinjuring the same area and it will prevent future injuries as well. 
- Strengthen muscles: A person is less likely to suffer from pulled muscles if they are strong and healthy. Injured muscles are prone to strains and sprains because of being weakened. By focusing on strengthening exercises and getting into shape, a person can avoid future injuries and protect themselves from experiencing a pulled muscle.
What is the Prognosis for a Pulled Muscle?
Sometimes a person can have a severely pulled muscle and require medical attention. If home care for a pulled muscle does not work, it is important to seek medical attention for proper treatment. By following the recommended steps above and seeking medical attention if needed, you can heal from a pulled muscle and be back to normal in no time.
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