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First aid advice for the treatment of a pulled muscle

Ever pull a muscle? Want to know what to do if it happens again? Here is some first aid advice to help you if you have experienced a pulled muscle.


Do stop whatever activity caused the muscle pull immediately

Obviously, whatever you were doing that caused the pulled muscle should be stopped as soon as possible. Exercising, playing sports, or anything that would put strain on your muscles should be avoided.

Do apply an ice pack as soon as possible

Ice reduces blood flow and inflammation so there is less swelling, bruising, and tissue trauma. A pulled muscle causes some degree of bleeding in the muscle tissue. Be careful to put a towel between the ice and your skin to prevent frostbite. Don’t leave the ice on for longer than 20 minutes at a time. Do not use ice if you have a history of cold sensitivity.

Do rest the pulled muscle

There is no substitute for rest. The muscle needs to heal. Rest as much as you can and propped the strain up without causing undo stress.

Do use OTC analgesics

You can use over-the-counter analgesics but avoid over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs. Since they can cause more bleeding into the muscle and aggravate swelling and pain, anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen and ibuprofen should be avoided. Try low doses of acetaminophen, like what is contained in Tylenol instead.


Do not let the the pain go on for more than 3 days

If the pain from the pulled muscle doesn’t improve after three days, there may be more than a pulled muscle causing your pain. See a physician.

Do not neglect stretching

Make sure you stretch the next time you decide to engage in physical activity. Stretch before and after any sort of strenuous activity. In fact, a daily stretching routine is a good idea anyway.

Do not use heat immediately after a pulled muscle

Using heat for a pulled muscle acutely can aggravate swelling and bleeding into the muscle. Stick to using ice unless your physician advises otherwise.

Do not forget to massage the area

Massaging the area every couple of hours will help to decrease swelling and increase blood flow. Lightly massage the area with your hands, but make sure not to massage to hard to prevent further injury.

Jumping cartoon

The treatment for a pulled muscle is simple. A few common sense tips can get you back on track. Ice the strained muscle intermittently and get some much needed rest.

More expert advice about Injuries

Photo Credits: Agony by Flickr: Edward Morgan; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas -

Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACRArthritis expert and Consultant

Dr. Nathan Wei is an nationally known arthritis expert and consultant. A graduate of Swarthmore College and the Jefferson Medical College, he completed his residency at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan and his arthritis training...

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