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Muscle Sprain


The amount of swelling or local bleeding into the muscle (from torn blood vessels) can best be managed early by applying ice packs and maintaining the strained muscle in a stretched position.  Heat can be applied when the swelling has lessened.  However, the early application of heat can increase swelling and pain.

Note: Ice or heat should not be applied to bare skin.  Always use a protective covering such as a towel between the ice or heat and the skin.

  • Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents such as aspirin and ibuprofen to reduce the pain and to improve your ability to move around.
  • Protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation (known as the PRICE formula) can help the affected muscle.  Here's how: First, remove all constrictive clothing, including jewelry, in the area of muscle strain. 
    • Protect the strained muscle from further injury.
    • Rest the strained muscle.  Avoid the activities that caused the strain and other activities that are painful.
    • Ice the muscle area (20 minutes every hour while awake).  Ice is a very effective anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving agent.  Small ice packs, such as packages of frozen vegetables or water frozen in foam coffee cups, applied to the area may help decrease inflammation.
    • Compression can be a gently applied with an Ace or other elastic bandage, which can provide both support and decrease swelling.  Do not wrap tightly.
    • Elevate the injured area to decrease swelling.  Prop up a strained leg muscle while sitting, for example.
  • Activities that increase muscle pain or work the affected body part are not recommended until the pain has significantly gone away.

Medical Treatment

Treatment is similar to the treatment at home.  The doctor, however, also can determine the extent of muscle and tendon injury and if crutches or a brace is necessary for healing.  The doctor can also determine if you need to restrict your activity, take days off work, and if rehabilitation exercises are required to help you recover.

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