Strain (injury)

Strain (injury)
Strain (injury)
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 M62.6, T14.3
ICD-9 848.9
MeSH D013180

A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon in which the muscle fibres tear as a result of overstretching. A strain is also colloquially known as a pulled muscle. The equivalent injury to a ligament is a sprain.[1]



Two images of the same strain. One of the pictures was shot through a mirror.

Typical symptoms of a strain include: localized pain, stiffness, discoloration and bruising around the strained muscle.


Strains are a result of muscular-fiber tears due to overstretching. They can happen while doing everyday tasks and are not restricted to athletes. Nevertheless, people who play sports are more at risk of developing a strain due to increased muscle use.


The first-line treatment for a muscular strain in the acute phase include four steps commonly known as R.I.C.E.[2][3]

  • Rest: Stop all unnecessary activities, especially those that cause pain, to prevent the strain from progressing.
  • Ice: Apply ice to reduce swelling by reducing blood flow to the injury site. Never ice for more than 20 minutes at a time.
  • Compression: Wrap the strained area to reduce swelling with an ACE soft-wrapped bandage.
  • Elevation: Keep the strained area as close to the level of the heart as is conveniently possible to keep blood from pooling in the injured area.

The ice and compression (cold compression therapy) will stop the pain and swelling while the injury starts to heal itself. Controlling the inflammation is critical to the healing process and the icing further restricts fluid leaking into the injured area as well as controlling pain.

Cold compression therapy wraps are a useful way to combine icing and compression to stop swelling and pain.

This immediate treatment is usually accompanied by the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs[4] (e.g., ibuprofen), which both reduce the immediate inflammation and relieve pain.

It is recommended[5] that the person injured should consult a medical provider if the injury is accompanied by severe pain, if the limb cannot be used, or if there is noticeable tenderness over an isolated spot. These can be signs of a broken or fractured bone, a sprain, or a complete muscle tear.

Therapeutic ultrasound can be used to break down poorly healed muscle strains and permit them to heal properly.

See also


  1. ^ Fitness For Dummies p 60, Suzanne Schlosberg, Liz Neporent, For Dummies, 2005, ISBN 0764578510
  2. ^ Mnemonic at 235
  3. ^ T. A. Järvinen, et al., "Muscle injuries: optimising recovery" , Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol., 21 (2) Apr 2007, pp. 317-31.
  4. ^ TJ Noonan and WE Garrett, Jr, "Muscle strain injury: diagnosis and treatment," Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 7 (4), Jul-Aug 1999, pp. 262-9, see web version (accessed Aug. 25, 2008)
  5. ^ R. Neustaedter, "Natural Treatment for Injuries" (accessed Aug. 25, 200

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • repetitive strain injury — ➔ injury * * * repetitive strain injury UK US noun (also repetitive stress injury, ABBREVIATION RSI) HR ► [U] a medical condition caused by repeated pressure or movements, usually leading to pain and weakness in the hand and arm …   Financial and business terms

  • Repetitive Strain Injury — Typische Haltung des Unterarms bei der Bedienung einer Computermaus Das RSI Syndrom – von engl. repetitive strain injury oder (seltener) repetitive stress injury; auch als „Sekretärinnenkrankheit“, „Mausarm“ oder „Mausarm Syndrom“ bezeichnet –… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Repetitive Strain Injury Syndrom — Typische Haltung des Unterarms bei der Bedienung einer Computermaus Als Repetitive Strain Injury Syndrom (RSI Syndrom, engl. repetitive strain injury Verletzung durch wiederkehrende Belastung) bezeichnen Mediziner ein Krankheitsbild, bei dem… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • repetitive strain injury — (or repetitive stress injury) n. 1. an injury causing a condition characterized by sharp pains in the hand, wrist, back, etc. due usually to muscle strain caused by repetitive actions performed as during work or while exercising 2. such a… …   English World dictionary

  • repetitive strain injury — N UNCOUNT People who suffer from repetitive strain injury have pain in their hands and arms as a result of repeating similar movements over a long period of time, usually as part of their job. The abbreviation RSI is also used. One problem known… …   English dictionary

  • repetitive strain injury — re·pet·i·tive strain injury ri pet ət iv n any of various musculoskeletal disorders (as carpal tunnel syndrome or tendinitis) that are caused by cumulative damage to muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, or joints (as of the hand, wrist, arm, or… …   Medical dictionary

  • repetition strain injury — noun → RSI. Also, repetitive strain injury, repetitive stress injury …   Australian-English dictionary

  • repetitive strain injury — re.petitive strain .injury n [U] medical RSI pains in your hands, arms etc caused by doing the same hand movements many times, especially by using a computer ↑keyboard or ↑mouse …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • repetitive strain injury — repetitive strain ,injury noun uncount RSI …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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