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Muscle Strain

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Last updated June 11, 2022

Muscle strain quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your muscle strain.

Muscle strain quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your muscle strain.

Take muscle strain quiz

What is a muscle strain?

A muscle strain means that the muscles have been overstretched to the point of damage and sometimes tearing. Muscle strains are also called muscle pulls. Sometimes the tendons (the fibrous tissue that connects muscles to bones) can be injured at the same time. (A "sprain" means that ligaments, the tissue that connects bones together, have been damaged.)

Muscle strains often occur in the lower back and back of the thighs.

Symptoms

Symptoms usually include sudden sharp pain followed by swelling, bruising, and ongoing tenderness.

Treatment

  • Icing the air can reduce inflammation.
  • You can rest the pulled muscle for a short period of time and then gradually increase exercise to regain strength and prevent stiffness and weakness of the muscles and tendons.
  • You may need physical therapy, which will be tailored to your injury and the types of activities you do.  For example, if it’s a sports injury, they can show you ways to prevent the injury from recurring by adjusting your form and technique.

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Dr. Rothschild has been a faculty member at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He currently practices as a hospitalist at Newton Wellesley Hospital. In 1978, Dr. Rothschild received his MD at the Medical College of Wisconsin and trained in internal medicine followed by a fellowship in critical care medicine. He also received an MP...
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