Muscle strain

A muscle strain is a musculoskeletal injury that can be sustained by any muscle in the body and is often the result of improper form and excessive load placed upon the muscle. A muscle strain is an injury that involves the tearing or stretching of a muscle or tendon (Mayo Clinic, 2011).

            Signs and symptoms for a muscle strain include swelling, pain at site, limited ability to move the affected muscle, and muscle spasms may also occur (Mayo Clinic, 2011). A muscle sprain may cause some individuals to bruise, have redness, and may even cause an open cut. Symptoms and signs for muscle strain vary between three different grades of severity. A Grade I muscle strain is the less severe and progresses in severity to a Grade II and finally to a Grade III. The symptoms may include feeling pain when performing movements and there may be slight muscle tenderness. An injured person with a Grade I muscle strain may show signs of mild point tenderness. An injured patient with a Grade II or III would show signs of weakness, swelling, muscle spasm, moderate to severe point tenderness, present an indentation or lump where the muscle or tendon is torn, and may be unable to perform their normal techniques with normal motion (Flegel, 2008).
            A muscle strain causes can fall into two different categories: acute or chronic. An acute cause for a muscle strain is when the individual is injured in an abrupt manner. When a muscle strain is acute in nature the muscle or tendon is torn, overstretched, or pulled beyond its limit. Acute muscle strains are often a result of slipping/falling unexpectedly, lifting a heavy object, utilizing poor and improper form, or running (Mayo Clinic, 2011). A chronic muscle strain results from prolonged and repeated movements that cause injury to the muscle and/or tendon. Chronic muscle strains often occur from repetitive movements, usually at work or sport, that cause damage.  Other causes of a strain can include weak and inflexible muscles in and/or around the injured area.
            If a patient sustains a muscle strain the patient should maintain the strained muscle in the stretched position and implement rest, ice, compression, and elevation (Shiel, 2012).  The injured individual should also take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug and may need to see a physician if the severity of the injury is too great. Depending on the severity of the injury crutches or a brace may be recommended. A physician will also tell the patient if certain activities should be avoided, how much time off work is necessary, and may suggest a flexibility and strength program (Shiel, 2012).
            Recovery time is dependent upon the severity and location of the muscle strain. Recovery time can also be minimized if the patient adheres to the rehabilitation program set forth by the physician and also by avoiding activities that cause undue pain. The recovery time for a Grade I, II, and III injury would be dependent upon the injured patient regaining full strength, range of motion, and flexibility in the injured area. In the case of a Grade I strain the patient could be classified as safe to return to normal activity once these three criteria are satisfied. The main difference for the Grade II and III is that the patient has to see a physician and be medically cleared.
Flegel, M. (2008). Sports First Aid: A coach’s guide to the care and prevention of athletic injuries, 4th ed. Human Kinetics Inc.
Mayo Clinic. (2011, October 25). Sprains and Strains. Retrieved December 11, 2012, from
Shiel, W. (2012, January 13). Muscle Strain. Retrieved December 11, 2012, from

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