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Strain

Symptoms, Causes, Questions & Related Topics

Key Points

  • The article distinguishes between strains and sprains, with strains affecting muscles or tendons and sprains involving ligaments.
  • Strains commonly occur in the hamstring and lower back muscles, and can be either acute, caused by sudden incidents, or chronic, due to repetitive movements.
  • Symptoms of a strained muscle include spasms, pain, swelling, and limited mobility.
  • The suggested treatment for muscle strains is the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation), along with over-the-counter medicines.
  • If symptoms persist, the article recommends seeking professional treatment at an urgent care center due to their extended hours.

Did you know that there is a difference between strains and sprains? These two injuries are similar and share common symptoms, but they affect different areas of the body. A strain is when you overextend or tear a muscle or tendon, whereas a sprain is the overextension or tearing of ligaments. Strains occur most often in the hamstring muscle, which is the large muscle located on the back of the thigh, and in the muscles located in the lower back.

There are two types of strains, acute and chronic. Acute strains happen suddenly. For example, acute strains ordinarily happen when someone slips on an icy walkway or awkwardly lifts a heavy box when moving. Chronic strains result from repetitive, prolonged movement of a muscle, which typically occurs for people at work or while playing sports. Tennis and golf are two sports that are known for causing chronic strains.

Symptoms for a strained muscle include:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Limited mobility to the affected area

After you’ve sustained a muscle strain, it’s important to begin RICE treatment, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Taking over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicines like Advil® and Tylenol® is also beneficial.

If you think you should seek professional treatment for a strain, a great place to go is an urgent care center. Urgent care facilities typically have extended hours on nights and weekends, making it easy to get treatment when you suddenly strain your back or hamstring muscle.

Frequently asked questions

  • What's the difference between a strain and a sprain?

    A strain involves the overextension or tearing of a muscle or tendon, while a sprain is the overextension or tearing of ligaments.
  • Where do strains most commonly occur?

    Strains most commonly occur in the hamstring muscle and lower back muscles.
  • What are the symptoms of a strained muscle?

    Symptoms of a strained muscle include muscle spasms, pain, swelling, and limited mobility in the affected area.
  • What is the recommended treatment for a muscle strain?

    The recommended treatment for a muscle strain is the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation), along with over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicines.
  • What does RICE stand for in the context of treating a muscle strain?

    RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
  • Can strains be chronic and not just acute?

    Yes, strains can be chronic, often resulting from repetitive, prolonged muscle movement, as seen in workers or athletes.
  • When should I seek professional treatment for a muscle strain?

    You should seek professional treatment if your symptoms persist or are severe. Urgent care centers are a good option as they often have extended hours.
  • Are there specific incidents that can cause acute strains?

    Yes, acute strains can occur suddenly due to incidents like slipping or lifting heavy objects.

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