Muscle strain treatment

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Alternative Names

Treatment - muscle strain



How do you treat a muscle strain?


Rest the strained muscle and apply ice for the first few days after the injury. Anti-inflammatory medicines or acetaminophen (Tylenol) also help reduce pain and swelling. As the pain decreases, you can use heat on the muscle. Stretching and light exercises to bring blood to the injured area can also be useful. In general, stretching and warm compresses are helpful before exercises. Cooling down and icing the area after exercise can help.

Get medical help right away if:

  • You have a lot of swelling with the muscle strain.
  • You can't move your arms, legs, or joints.
  • You have swelling that is getting worse as time passes.


Biundo JJ. Bursitis, tendinitis, and other periarticular disorders and sports medicine. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 271.

Nakamura N, Rodeo SA, Alini M, Maher S, et al. Physiology and pathophysiology of musculoskeletal tissues. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 1. 

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 5/9/2015
  • C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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