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Muscle strain
Muscle strain

Treatment for leg strain
Treatment for leg strain



A strain is when a muscle becomes overstretched and tears. This painful injury, also called a "pulled muscle," can be caused by an accident, improper use of a muscle, or overuse of a muscle.

Alternative Names:

Pulled muscle


  • Excessive physical activity or effort
  • Improperly warming up before a physical activity
  • Poor flexibility

  • Pain and difficulty moving the injured muscle
  • Discolored and bruised skin
  • Swelling

First Aid:
  • Apply ice immediately to reduce swelling. Wrap the ice in cloth -- avoid using ice directly on the skin. Apply ice for 10 to 15 minutes every 1 hour for the first day. Then, every 3 to 4 hours.
  • Use ice for the first 3 days. After that, either heat or ice may be helpful.
  • Rest the pulled muscle for at least a day. If possible, keep the pulled muscle elevated above the level of the heart.
  • Avoid using a strained muscle while it is still painful. When the pain subsides, start activity slowly and in moderation.

Do Not:

Call immediately for emergency medical assistance if:
  • You are unable to move the muscle.
  • The injury is bleeding.

Call your doctor if the pain does not go away after several weeks.

  • Warm-up properly before exercise and sports.
  • Keep your muscles strong and flexible.


Mercier LR. Sports medicine. In: Mercier LR, ed. Practical Orthopedics. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 15.

Cohen I, Jouve C. Trapezius strain. In: Frontera, WR, Silver JK, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 8.

Geiderman JM. General principles of orthopedic injuries. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 6th ed. St Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2006:chap 46.

Review Date: 5/2/2009
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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