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Various Muscles Strains and Their Treatment

Common Muscle Strains and Their Corresponding Symptoms and Treatment

The neck, lower back, chest, shoulder, and hamstring are commonly strained areas in the body. A weak muscle can also be the cause of a recurring muscle strain.

A few muscle strain symptoms noted in the injured region are swelling, muscle weakness, discoloration or bruising, soreness, and muscle spasm. 

A suggested muscle strain treatment for faster relief and better healing is the R.I.C.E. (Rest, Icing, Compression, and Elevation) technique. 

Chest Muscle Strain

Muscle strain in chest is characterized by a sudden pain in the chest area. The usual cause of the strain is either a muscle pull or tear.

The chest is made up of three layers of intercostal muscles. The function of the muscle is to stabilize the upper body and help in breathing. About half of the chest pain is because of an intercostal muscle strain.


Mild chest muscle strain can be treated at home while complete recovery might take a few weeks. Suggested immediate treatment for milder chest muscle strain is the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation) method. 

In case of chronic strain, it is recommended to seek medical intervention through physical therapy.

Neck Muscle Strain

Major muscle strain in the neck is caused either due to a sudden jerk movement of the neck, known as a whiplash injury or by being struck by an object. Accidents, head jerking during a concert, improper posture, or physical altercations are a few common causes of neck strain.

Neck stiffness causing limited movement of the neck, pain in the back of the neck, dizziness, ringing in the ear, and numb hands or arms are a few commonly noted symptoms of a neck strain.


Neck muscle strain treatment includes: 

  • Anti-inflammatory medicines and analgesics 
  • Immediate icing of the area for the next 24 hours followed by heat applied to the region with a hot towel
  • Muscle relaxants 
  • Limited movement of the neck to keep the muscle from getting stiff
  • Sleeping with a towel roll under the neck might provide relief

You’re recommended to visit a physical therapist for better-guided motion range exercises. 

Calf Muscle Strain

A calf muscle is located behind the shin bone in the lower leg region. It extends from the base of the thigh to the heel. Calf muscle strain happens when the muscle is overstretched. 

Muscle strain in leg is a common injury in athletes. Overworking the tired muscle or dehydration are some causes attributed to the injury. Sprinters, cricket, football, and tennis players are at risk of calf muscle strain. The injury is often termed “tennis leg”.


RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) is a sought-after immediate treatment intervention that can also be provided at home.

In case of a calf muscle strain physical exercise or activity is to be avoided for a while. Alcohol intake, applying heat on the injured area, and massage are to be strictly avoided. 

Intercostal Muscle Strain

Intercostal muscles are located between the ribs. These muscles help to hold the upper body study and assist in breathing. The muscle is made up of three layers. 

An intercostal muscle strain, in any of the layers, causes pain and trouble breathing. About half of the chest muscle strain, as per ICD-10, originates from the intercostal muscles.  Injury caused to the muscle is usually during a twisting movement. 


It is recommended to get a medical checkup for an intercostal strain. By identifying the grade of the muscle tear doctor can suggest better treatment plans. Activities such as twisting and reaching must be avoided. 

Other methods for relief are: 

  • Breathing exercises
  • Hot and cold therapy 
  • Anti-inflammation medicine

Lower Back Muscle Strain

Lower back muscle strain happens when the muscle is stressed beyond its usual limit. The strain causes the muscle to weaken which then may not be able to hold the spine in its correct position.

Commonly noted causes for lower back strain are: 

  • Falling 
  • Lifting heavy objects with improper posture
  • Extreme physical labor
  • Bending or crouching continuously 
  • Overweight

Stiffness and pain in the back, pain in the legs and back of the thigh, pain while bending, coughing, stretching, or sneezing is symptoms of the lower back strain. 


Treatment for back muscle strain includes:

  • Exercise: Abdomen and back strengthening exercises stabilize the spine. Regular exercise prevents further riskier injuries. 
  • Physical Therapy: Physical Therapy helps to relieve pain, restore movement, and relaxes the muscle. 
  • Home treatment: In case of a milder strain, immediately ice the region for the next 2-3 days. Pain relievers too can be used to counter the pain. 

Abdominal Muscle Strain

A stomach muscle strain occurs when a tear or stretch happens in the abdomen region. Tennis and football players are injuries prone to abdominal muscle strain.

The spine is primarily supported and stabilized by the back and abdominal muscles. They function in sync to help you exercise, walk, sit, stand and perform many more. 

Continuous movement overuses the muscle resulting in muscle strain. Symptoms of the strain include: 

  • Stomach ache 
  • Bruising
  • Muscle spasms 
  • Swelling 


Stomach muscle strain heals with time. Affective treatment methods are: 

  • Applying pressure to the injured region by switching between a warm towel and an ice pack.
  • Medical intervention through physical therapy 
  • Pain relief and decreasing inflammation by intake of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs 
  • Wearing a support belt to support the muscle and minimize swelling.

The Need for Medical Attention and Physical Therapy

Home treatment is effective in low-grade stretches or tears. RICE technique is one of the most sought-after methods that provide quick intervention and can be done by anyone. 

Muscle strains of severe grades (grade II and III) are difficult to treat through home remedies. Symptoms of such injuries are aggravated in nature. Hence, it is highly recommended to seek professional medical treatment. Booking an appointment with a doctor or a physical therapist will provide you with an in-depth diagnosis of the injury. 

You can book a session with our experienced physical therapists who’ll help you regain movement and have you learn physical exercises to strengthen the muscle to prevent future injury.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the fastest way to heal intercostal muscle strain?

Intercostal muscle strain involves damage to the muscles between two or more ribs. The fastest way to treat intercostal muscle strain involves anti-inflammatory medication, stretching and strengthening exercises, hot and cold therapy, massages, and rest. 

How do you know if you have pulled an intercostal muscle?

Damage to the muscles between two or more ribs leads to intercostal muscle strain. A few common symptoms of a pulled intercostal muscle include swelling, stiffness, rigidity, muscle weakness, discoloration, bruising, soreness, and muscle spasms. 

What does muscle strain in the chest feel like?

A muscle strain in the chest occurs due to a tear and stretch caused by overexertion. The symptoms of this condition include sharp or dull pain, mobility issues, inflammation, muscle spasms, bruising, soreness, and upper back pain. 

How do you treat a minor chest strain?

A muscle strain in the chest can be caused by repetitive movement, overstretching, muscle fatigue, injuries, poor flexibility, etc. Our experts recommend treating this condition through the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevate). Further, various stretching/strengthening exercises are also helpful.

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