The moment you pull a muscle, you can feel it. The pain starts, the stretched sensation, the throbbing, the heat near the injured area and the swelling. Then there is your intense desire for fast relief.
With these five steps, you can quickly treat a pulled muscle so your body can start its healing process without delay.
Step 1: Apply R.I.C.E right away.
RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. This time-honored home remedy is recommended by medical professionals as an effective immediate treatment for pulled muscles.
The most important element of R.I.C.E. is rest. For at least 24 hours, try to use the strained muscle as little as possible. Throughout the day apply ice for about 10 minutes every 60 minutes.
While you are resting the strained area, you can gently wrap it with a compression bandage. While sitting and laying down, use chairs and pillows as needed to keep the injured area elevated above heart level (this aids in swelling reduction).
Step 2: Add in heat.
After the first 24 hours of RICE treatment, VeryWell recommends that you begin to add in heat. Alternate periods of heat with periods of ice and periods of rest.
Then you can do 10 minutes of ice followed by 10 minutes of heat and then 40 minutes of rest. As you notice the area feeling better you can do this less frequently.
Step 3: Avoid trying to use the muscle and don’t “work it out.”
A strained muscle is serious business. If a bruise appears, Fitness magazine advises that it is likely more to be a serious injury (this may indicate internal bleeding and then is wise to seek the advice of a doctor’s care).
So trying to “work it out” by rolling the area, pulling on it, massaging it, or stretching it, isn’t going to speed up the healing process. It could extend it. Just continue resting, icing and heating until you can gently move the injured area without undue discomfort.
Step 4: Take anti-inflammatories.
If the area is swollen, one of the best ways to quickly reduce the swelling and alleviate pain is to take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory/pain relievers.
However, be careful not to use these to begin moving again too quickly. This can cause a re-injury, since the medications will reduce your pain threshold to “mimic” healing!
Step 5: See a medical professional if your strain doesn’t get better after a few days.
Sometimes pulled muscles can be more serious than they seem at first. Often it takes a few days before you can tell the difference between a minor and major injury.
If you have been resting the injured area and following these steps but you don’t see any improvement, it is time to seek out professional medical care.
By following these five steps, you can make the most of the resources you have at home to immediately ease pain and swelling. This will give your body its best chance to heal up fast and in full. A doctor of chiropractic can help determine what is the best care and treatment for your condition.