At one point or another, everyone has had a pulled muscle. It happens any time you stretch a muscle in your body too far, or stretch it to the point that the muscle tissue begins to tear. You can get a pulled muscle anywhere. They occur most often in your back, shoulders, hamstrings, neck, or shoulders.

You’ll know it when you get one, because the pain will be sudden and extreme, and will probably limit movement within the affected muscle group.  Those, however, aren’t the only symptoms.  Others include things like bruising or discoloration, swelling, muscle spasms, stiffness, or a sudden weakness in the affected muscle group.

The most common causes of these types of injuries include:

  • Overexertion
  • Fatigue
  • Poor physical condition mixed with a sudden burst of physical activity
  • Poor flexibility
  • Failing to warm up properly before starting a physical activity

You can also suffer a muscle strain if you slip or lose your footing, lift something while you’re in an awkward position, throw something, or do anything involving running and jumping.  Pulled muscles tend to be more common in colder weather because the muscles in your body are stiffer and it takes more time to warm up properly.

In the vast majority of cases, you can treat a pulled muscle on your own with a combination of ice, compression, elevation and simple rest.  There are times, however, when you’ll absolutely want to seek the help of a medical professional.

Those conditions include:

  • If the muscle pain is accompanied by any amount of blood coming from the injury.
  • It’s severe enough that you can’t walk or have difficulty even moving the affected part of your body.
  • The injured area goes completely numb.
  • Or if the pain doesn’t subside after a week.

Don’t take any chances.  If you have any doubts, questions or concerns at all, it always pays to seek the help and advice of a professional.