If you are suffering from muscle pain, you may automatically assume that a muscle strain, also known as a pulled muscle has occurred. Although pulled muscles are common, at times the pain you are experiencing may be an indication of a deeper medical issue. For this reason, it is important to understand signs and symptoms of a pulled muscle so you know when you seek medical attention.

What is a Pulled Muscle?

Dr Marchetti Pulled Muscle

Michael E. Marchetti, M.D.

A pulled muscle is also known as a muscle strain and occurs when your muscle is torn or overstretched. Although pulled muscles can arise anywhere, they are most common in the lower back, neck, shoulder, and hamstring areas. If you experience a pulled muscle, you will likely feel it as it occurs and may notice symptoms such as:

  •         Sudden pain
  •         Limited range of motion
  •         Soreness
  •         Swelling
  •         Stiffness
  •         Discoloration or bruising

Causes of Pulled Muscles

Acute muscle strains occur when your muscle tears suddenly and you don’t expect it. You may face an acute muscle strain as a result of:

  •         Walking or running
  •         Lifting a heavy object
  •         Failing to warm up prior to engaging in physical activity
  •         Poor flexibility
  •         Fatigue and overexertion

Chronic muscle strains arise because of repetitive movement and may be caused by:

  •         Poor posture
  •         Holding your neck or back in an awkward position for long periods of time
  •         Golf, baseball, rowing, and other sports
  •         Occupations in industries like construction, plumbing, and landscaping

Treating Pulled Muscles

Fortunately, most pulled muscles can be treated with conservative treatments at home. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation can help. In addition, over-the-counter pain medications, stretching before exercising, and staying in shape can relieve pain and reduce the risk of future strains.

You should seek medical attention if your pain does not subside after a week, you are unable to walk, you cannot move your arms or legs, or you are bleeding as a result of your injury. A doctor can conduct a physical exam and take imaging tests such as X-rays and MRI scans to pinpoint the extent of your injury.

Treatments such as anti-inflammatory pain medications to reduce pain and swelling may be recommended. Physical therapy to strengthen your muscle and restore your range of movement may also be prescribed. Surgery will only be necessary if your case is severe and cannot be treated through conservative measures.

Preventing Pulled Muscles

Certain lifestyle choices can reduce your risk of pulling a muscle. Regular exercise paired with proper technique and stretching can keep your muscles strong and healthy. The following safety precautions can also help:

  •         Taking frequent breaks to avoid staying in one position for too long
  •         Maintaining good posture
  •         Lifting object carefully
  •         Maintaining a healthy weight
  •         Wearing properly fitting shoes

Contact South Shore Orthopedics

If you are suffering from a pulled muscle that does not heal on its own, a trip to an orthopedic specialist may be warranted. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. After performing some imaging tests, we’ll inform you of the best treatment options for your particular case.