Categories: Injury Care

Healing a Pulled Muscle: Pain, Swelling & Limited Mobility


When individuals experience a neuromusculoskeletal injury strain, can following basic pulled muscle treatment protocols help in healing and a full recovery?

Pulled Muscle Treatment

A pulled muscle or muscle strain occurs when a muscle is stretched beyond its ability resulting in discomfort symptoms and mobility issues. Microscopic tears can occur within the muscle fibers potentially worsening the injury. This type of injury usually causes mild to severe pain, bruising, and immobility, and nerve injuries can develop as well. Common muscle strains include:

  • Pulled hamstrings
  • Groin strains
  • Pulled abdominal muscles
  • Calf strains

Pulled muscle treatment requires patience to promote proper healing and restoration of optimal function.

  • Individuals need to focus on the different stages of healing.
  • Gradually increase activity levels as the body allows to prevent stiffness and atrophy which can cause complications.


The usual symptoms of this type of injury include:

  • Pain
  • Limited mobility
  • Muscle spasms
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Often individuals will feel a sudden grabbing or tearing sensation and are then unable to continue the activity.


Muscle strain injuries are graded by severity: (Hospital for Special Surgery. 2019)

Grade I

  • Mild discomfort.
  • Often there is no disability.
  • Usually does not limit activity.

Grade II

  • Moderate discomfort
  • Can limit the ability to perform certain activities.
  • May have moderate swelling and bruising.

Grade III

  • Severe injury that can cause significant pain.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Swelling.
  • Significant bruising.

Basic Treatment Protocols

Most pulled muscle strain injuries heal with simple treatment. Following the right steps can ensure an expedited recovery. In the early stages after the injury, there is a balance between doing too much or not enough. The amount of activity an individual will be able to do, and the time required for recovery depends on the severity of the injury. Here are some guidelines in the right direction.


  • Rest is recommended for the early recovery stage.
  • Depending on the severity of the injury this could last from one to five days.
  • Immobilization is usually not necessary, and not moving at all can lead to muscle and joint stiffness.
  • This can be harmful and interfere with mobility. (Joel M. Kary. 2010)
  • If immobilization is necessary, like using a splint or cast, careful supervision should be monitored by a healthcare provider.

Cold Therapy

  • Cold therapy should begin as soon as possible after sustaining a pulled muscle.
  • The therapy/ice helps reduce swelling, bleeding, and pain. (Gerard A Malanga, Ning Yan, Jill Stark. 2015)
  • Cold therapy applications can be done frequently, but should not exceed 15 minutes at a time.


  • Stretching is important to relax the muscles and for pre-mobilization.
  • Muscles that maintain flexibility help prevent further injury.


  • The injury and the rest period can decrease the strength of the muscle.
  • It is important to rebuild strength before returning to physical activities.
  • Strengthened muscles help prevent re-injury.

Increased Activity to Prevent Muscle Fatigue

Properly Warming Up

  • Warming up before taking on physical activities will help loosen the muscles and prevent injuries.
  • Beginning work or exercise with stiff muscles can lead to an increased chance of strain.
  • Studies have shown that temperature can influence the stiffness of a muscle. (K. W. Ranatunga. 2018)
  • Maintaining body and muscle warmth helps prevent injury and re-injury.

Injuries and Chiropractic: The Road To Recovery


Hospital for Special Surgery, Muscle Strain: What You Need to Know About Pulled Muscles.

Kary J. M. (2010). Diagnosis and management of quadriceps strains and contusions. Current reviews in musculoskeletal medicine, 3(1-4), 26–31.

Malanga, G. A., Yan, N., & Stark, J. (2015). Mechanisms and efficacy of heat and cold therapies for musculoskeletal injury. Postgraduate medicine, 127(1), 57–65.

Mair, S. D., Seaber, A. V., Glisson, R. R., & Garrett, W. E., Jr (1996). The role of fatigue in susceptibility to acute muscle strain injury. The American journal of sports medicine, 24(2), 137–143.

Ranatunga K. W. (2018). Temperature Effects on Force and Actin⁻Myosin Interaction in Muscle: A Look Back on Some Experimental Findings. International journal of molecular sciences, 19(5), 1538.

Post Disclaimer

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Healing a Pulled Muscle: Pain, Swelling & Limited Mobility" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

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Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

We are here to help you and your family.


Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*


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