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
- 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.