A muscle strain occurs when a muscle or the tendon that attaches it to the bone is overextended. This also causes the muscle to tear or rip. Muscle strains are also sometimes called pulled muscles.
Muscle strains usually occur during activities that require the muscle to tighten suddenly or forcefully. This is caused by not warming up before a strenuous activity, a weakness in the muscle or by using a previously injured muscle that has not had the time to heal properly. That is why many muscle strains occur during exercise, sports activities or lifting heavy objects.
Symptoms of muscle strain are pain, a burning sensation and a swollen or bruised appearance to the injured area. A strained muscle might spasm, which means it contracts suddenly and involuntarily, causing severe pain.
Muscle strains are treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Ice packs are recommended at regular intervals. Ice causes the blood vessels to constrict, which reduces inflammation and pain. Anti-inflammatory medications might also be used to relieve pain. You should avoid the type of activity that caused the injury until the muscle is completely healed.