How do you know if you strained a muscle?

You will know if you strained a muscle because it will hurt significantly when you use it. You may also have swelling, bruising, or redness of that area, and may have difficulty moving it through its full range of motion. A strained muscle normally hurts right after you strain it. A torn muscle can feel like a strained muscle, but much worse, with more swelling, bruising, and an inability to use the muscle without very significant pain. I frequently see strained muscles as an orthopedic surgeon in Colorado Springs, and most of the time they heal on their own without much medical intervention.

How long does it take for a strained muscle to heal?

Strained muscles should heal anywhere from 2-6 weeks depending on how bad the strain is and which muscle you have strained. This assumes that you have been resting the muscle that you strained. If you continue to do activities that cause the muscle pain while it is healing, it can take a few months for it to heal.

How should you treat a muscle strain?

The best treatment for muscle strains is to protect the muscle, rest the muscle, apply ice, compression wraps, and elevation above the level of the heart. The strained muscle just needs time to heal, and your support while it is doing that. Anti-inflammatories can also help with the pain. If after a few weeks and the above mentioned treatments, you still have muscle pain, it may be worth seeing your doctor who will determine if further care is needed. It could be possible that you have torn your muscle, or have damaged the surrounding joints and connective tissues. You may also need physical therapy for adequate stretching and strengthening so you don’t injure the same muscle again.

How can you tell the difference between a muscle strain and muscle soreness?

A muscle strain or tear will hurt immediately, and you will know that you just hurt yourself. You will find an immediate inability to use the muscle in the same way you were using it right before you injured it. Muscle soreness will happen one to two days after you have exercised it, usually isn’t quite as painful, and normally doesn’t cause any significant disability. Muscle soreness will also resolve in a couple days, compared to a muscle strain which usually takes weeks.

I hope I was able to answer some of your questions about how to know if you have strained a muscle. If you would like me to treat your muscle strain, contact us below to make an appointment if you are in the Colorado Springs area. I also am available for virtual consults.

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