Shirtless man with shoulder pain

Pulled a muscle…What next?

Suffering from a pulled or strained muscle in any part of your body can be extremely painful and quite irritating or debilitating.  More often than not we either ignore the strain and just move on with our day or we give it a quick rub and hope it disappears, however, depending on the degree of the injury this could lead to more harm and further damage. Seeing a professional that is trained to treat injured muscles will only benefit you more in the long run.

What is a pulled/strained muscle?

A pulled muscle can be self-diagnosed rather quickly. A pulled muscle occurs when a section of a muscle feels extremely tender and warm to the touch or in more severe cases, you are unable to move that muscle in any way and noticeable swelling and bruising can occur. Touching or moving the affected area often sends shooting pain throughout your body and the affected muscle will usually become hard and stiff following the incident.

How to treat it?

Try to avoid taking unperscribed painkillers until you can speak to your physio or doctor. Also please don’t rub or massage the affected area yourself as this may lead to further and greater damage and bruising.

First thing you should do is stop your activity immediately and R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)

Rest is a vital component of this process, it will aid you if causing further damage or pain, for example, if you pulled a muscle in your leg, you want to try keep the leg up, supported and well-rested rather than walk on it and cause more damage to the muscle. While resting try to take deep breaths and try and relax the muscle involved. The more we think about it the more we tense the muscle.

Secondly, use an ice pack on the affected area for no more than 20 minutes at a time. Wrap some ice or an ice pack in a cloth and place it on the affected area for 20 minutes and then remove it. Do this once an hour and avoid leaving an ice pack on overnight or whilst you are sleeping.

Compression is the third step, if it is a pulled muscle in your leg and arm then you can wrap It up in a bandage but be cautious of how tight you make it. You don’t want to cut off any blood circulation, make sure your toes or fingers do not turn white. If the muscle is on your back or neck then speak to your physiotherapist about strapping/taping the affected area.

Lastly, this goes in line with the first step, keep the affected area elevated. Keeping the affected area elevated will reduce the swelling and throbbing pain, when we reduce the swelling, this allows for the area to heal more optimally.

All of these steps can and should be done before you can get to your physio. 

Pulled/strained muscles are a common injury that affects the majority of us at some point in our lives, not just sportsmen, you can pull a muscle in your neck If you sleep on the wrong pillow or get up incorrectly from a low chair. It is a good idea to go and see your physio as soon as possible, as they are trained to help educate you and to take care of these issues, to help you get back and to your active self in no time.

If you feel like you have pulled a muscle or are struggling with stiff or sore muscles, call us today! Our team and Williams and Locke will gladly help you.