How To Treat A Pulled Muscle
You overdid it playing touch football and now you need to know how to treat a pulled muscle. A pulled or strained muscle is a common injury among those who aren't used to strenuous exercise, but it can also happen to professional athletes who haven't warmed up or was involved in an accident. A pulled muscle happens when a muscle is stretched too far or too fast and tears--it can be extremely painful. While it takes time for the injured muscle to heal, there are things you can do to treat a pulled muscle and reduce the pain and swelling.
What you need:
- Ice pack
- Elastic bandage
- Heating pad
- Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like ibuprofen
- To treat a pulled muscle, you need to remember the word "RICE." That stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation.
- Immediately ice the injury. Apply ice for ten minutes each hour onto the area in question. This will help reduce inflammation and pain. There are various types of ice packs available to use to treat a pulled muscle, but a bag of frozen peas also makes a great emergency ice pack. Don't put the ice pack directly on your skin; the intense cold can damage the tissue. Don't apply ice for more than ten minutes; it can cause blood to rush to the area, actually worsening the swelling and pain.
- Rest the injured muscle by staying off it. If the pulled muscle is in the foot or leg, you may need to use crutches for a while to keep your weight off it.
- Treat a pulled muscle with compression by wrapping the injury with an elastic bandage if possible. This will help prevent swelling, which lessens the pain.
- Keep the injured area elevated to help reduce swelling if possible.
- Use a NSAID if necessary to help alleviate the pain and swelling. Follow the manufacturer's directions on the bottle.
- After three days, treat a pulled muscle with heat. Apply a heating pad to the affected area or soak in a hot tub to relax the muscles and prevent spasms. While some people find that heat will help, others get more relief by continuing to use ice. Try both and use whichever method works best for you.