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Muscle Strain

What Is a Muscle Strain?

Muscle strain is injury to muscle as a result of strenuous activity. Almost anyone can put undue tension on muscles during the course of normal daily activities, with sudden, quick heavy lifting, during sports, or while performing work tasks. Muscle strain is sometimes referred to as muscle pull. A severe muscle strain can result in a muscle tear. The tearing of the muscle can also damage small blood vessels, causing local bleeding (with or without bruising) and pain (caused by irritation of the nerve endings in the area). Of note, a sprain, in contrast to a strain, is an injury to ligaments and/or joints that cause pain and swelling but not dislocation.

What Are Muscle Strain Causes and Risk Factors?

Muscle strains can happen to anyone. They occur in the course of normal activities of the day or as a result of sudden use of a muscle with activity. Activities that can increase the risk of muscle strain include athletic activity in sports, with sudden acceleration or deceleration, throwing, quick and/or heavy lifting, sudden coughing, or injury of muscle while performing irregular work tasks. It is possible to strain any muscle that moves bones. Commonly strained muscles include the lumbar muscles, hamstring muscles of the posterior thigh, abdominal muscles, biceps muscles, triceps muscles, adductor muscles, quadriceps muscles of the thigh, triceps muscles, calf muscles, upper back muscles including trapezius and rhomboid muscles, neck muscles, and the intercostal muscles and oblique muscles of the chest.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/29/2017

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Muscle Strain:

Muscle Strain - Treatment

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Muscle Strain - Recovery Time

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Pain and inflammation are common symptoms of a strain.

Symptoms of Sprains and Strains

Strains, whether acute or chronic, have symptoms localized to the muscle groups or tendons that are injured. Pain can be over a small area, or a larger area, such as a group of muscles. Pain can be immediate in an acute strain, or it may be delayed in the case of an overuse injury. Signs and symptoms of strains include

  • pain,
  • inflammation,
  • muscle spasm,
  • muscle cramping,
  • muscle weakness, and
  • bruising may occur but may be delayed for several days.

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Medial Gastrocnemius Strain »

A medial calf injury is a musculotendinous disruption of varying degrees in the medial head of the gastrocnemius muscle that results from an acute, forceful push-off with the foot.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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