Muscle strains can go from either a minor inconvenience to being completely debilitating. Developing a muscle strain can be concerning however, especially when you don’t understand the cause behind it. In this article, we’re going to give you some of the signs that you may be suffering from a muscle strain, what are the causes, and what you can do about them.

What are Muscle Strains Actually?

Muscle strains occur when your muscles are torn or overstretched. They can be caused by a wide variety of reasons. In some cases, strains are caused by improper use of certain muscles or by overworking them. They tend to be very common in the neck, lower back, shoulder and hamstring muscles, but are not limited to these areas.

Please note that strains and sprains are very different and require different treatments. They also differ in severity as well. Sprains are when the ligaments that connect your bones together are torn. This is very common in ankle injuries. Strains are caused by torn or overstretched tendons and muscles. So before you seek treatment, it’s very important that you understand the difference between a strain vs sprain and see what symptoms fit your condition the most.

What are the Symptoms?

There are some clear symptoms that will tell you if you’re suffering from a strained muscle or not. If you see any kind of bruising or discoloration and feel a sudden sharp pain in your muscle, then that could be a clear sign. You should also check if you’re feeling sore in the area. Stiffness, sudden weakness and muscle spasms are also clear signs of a strain.

What Exactly Causes Them?

Strains can be caused by many factors and can be avoided as well. In some cases, strains can be caused by lack of warming up before intense exercise. In other cases, fatigue, poor conditioning and poor flexibility may be at cause. However, strains aren’t limited to intense effort, as a matter of fact, you can easily develop an acute strain while walking. Not understanding how to lift and carry can also increase the chances of you straining a muscle.

Chronic muscle strains can be the result of bad habits or repetitive movements. For instance, poor posture when walking or working at a desk could result in a chronic strain.

What Should You Do if You’re Suffering from a Strain?

The first thing you should do is apply ice to the area immediately if it’s an acute strain. You should also give the muscle some rest for a few days. Apply ice every hour on the first day and then in 4 hour intervals for a few days after.

Compression and elevation can also help the muscle heal. Try to keep the muscle above your heart’s level as much as you can and get some over the counter pain medication. After a few days, you can start applying heat to the strain to facilitate blood circulation. If after a week you still feel symptoms or you’re having difficulty moving your arms, legs or walking, then you should consider seeing a doctor. Also call a doctor immediately if there’s any blood coming from the area.

Muscle strains can be treated if you understand how they work and know what to avoid. Make sure that you consult your physician if your condition cannot be treated at home.