Muscle Strain

(Pulled Muscle; Strain, Muscle)

Definition

A muscle strain is an injury that damages the internal structure of the muscle. It may be small, or severe enough to cause internal bleeding and lengthening of muscle fibers. If the damaged parts of the muscle pull away from each other, it is called a muscle rupture.
Muscles of the Back
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Causes

A muscle strain is caused by tension or stress applied to the muscle that it cannot withstand. There are several ways that this can happen:
  • Muscle may not be ready for sudden stress
  • Tension may be too much for the muscle to bear, such as lifting a weight that is too heavy for you
  • Muscle is used too much on a certain day
Certain areas have muscles that are more likely to be strained than others, including:Muscles that cross two joints are at the greatest risk.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chances of getting a muscle strain include:
  • Athletic activities, especially those with running, lifting, and jumping
  • Tight muscles
  • Fatigue
  • Overexertion
  • Cold weather

Symptoms

Symptoms depend on how you strained the muscle.

Strain While Performing an Athletic or Physical Activity

You feel immediate soreness or pain in the affected muscle. If you try to use that muscle, it hurts even more. The area becomes tender and swollen. In the most severe cases, there may be a skin bruise because of bleeding underneath. Moving the nearby joints causes pain. Running and lifting are common activities that cause this type of muscle strain.

Strain from an Accumulation of Stress

When you do an activity that your body is not used to doing, the muscles are not in shape for that kind of activity. You may not feel pain during the activity, but the next day a muscle or set of muscles may be very sore. The muscle will be tender, and using it causes pain or discomfort.

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