How Do I Know if I Strained a Muscle?

As most of us know, playing sports, exercising, and staying active can occasionally leave muscles feeling a little sore. And, in most instances, this discomfort can be easily remedied with some rest and gentle stretching. But, what does it mean if your muscle soreness persists?

If you’re experiencing lingering pain or tenderness around a certain area of the body, you may have a muscle strain—an injury that occurs when a muscle or tendon is overstretched or partially or completely torn. Muscle strains can occur just about anywhere, but often develop in the lower back and legs. A few of the most common symptoms of a mild or moderate muscle strain include:

  • Pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle weakness
  • Cramping
  • Swelling or inflammation
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Redness or bruising

A muscle tear—also known as a grade 3 strain—can cause additional symptoms, including a noticeable popping sound during the injury and a visible gap or dent around the affected area. Pain from a torn muscle is typically intense and results in bruising, swelling, and loss of muscle function. If you think you may have torn a muscle, it’s important to seek immediate medical care.

How Do You Care For a Strained Muscle?

Many mild muscle strains can be remedied at home with self-care measures. If you’ve sustained a muscle injury, it’s important to promptly implement the R.I.C.E. protocol:

  • Rest – Avoid activities that put undue strain on the injured area.
  • Ice – Place an ice pack on the injured area to reduce swelling and help numb discomfort.
  • Compression – To further reduce swelling, compress the injured area with a wrap or bandage. If this causes additional pain or numbness, you’ve wrapped it too tightly!
  • Elevation – Use a pillow or cushion to elevate the injured area above your heart. Do this while you sleep, if possible.

If the R.I.C.E. protocol fails to improve your symptoms, it’s a good idea to speak with an orthopedic or sports medicine physician who can provide specialized treatment for your injury. Seeking professional medical care is especially important if your symptoms worsen or if you experience tingling or numbness.

Muscle Strain Treatment at Tampa Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine

Tampa Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Group—a division of Florida Medical Clinic—is a great place to turn for expert muscle strain and sports injury treatment. Our longstanding practice is led by orthopedic sports medicine surgeon Dr. Daniel Murphy and sports medicine physician Dr. Arnold Ramirez—two board-certified specialists who also serve on the medical staffs of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Yankees. As our patient, you can be assured that you’ll experience world-class care from friendly, local experts.

Don’t allow nagging pain from a muscle strain to keep you sidelined! Find relief and get back in the game by speaking with one of our specialists. Request a visit online or contact Tampa Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Group today to schedule your appointment.