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Signs & Symptoms of a Pulled Muscle in the Arm

by
author image Derek Smith
Derek Smith has been a freelance writer since 2008. He specializes in health and fitness and travel articles for eHow and Trails.com. Professionally, Smith is a certified personal trainer. He holds both the American Fitness Professionals and Associates certification and National Council on Strength and Fitness certification, as well as CPR certification through The American Heart Association's Healthcare Provider CPR Program.
Signs & Symptoms of a Pulled Muscle in the Arm
Signs & Symptoms of a Pulled Muscle in the Arm Photo Credit One arm stretch as part of a Thai body massage. image by Deborah Benbrook from <a href="http://www.fotolia.com">Fotolia.com</a>

There is a common misconception that a pulled muscle is something that only happens to athletes. This could not be further from the truth. A pulled muscle (also known as a torn muscle) can happen to anyone, even a couch potato. A pulled muscle is painful but not always immediately. It is important to know the symptoms of a pulled muscle in order to act quickly, take precautions and prevent a more serious injury.

Tenderness

Regardless of the size, a pulled muscle is typically very tender in the affected area. If pressing the affected area is painful, the most likely cause is a pulled muscle. According to WrongDiagnosis.com, if the muscle is not pulled, it may simply be an exhausted muscle or a muscle sprain. A sprain happens when the ligament that attaches muscle to bone tears.

Swelling

A pulled or torn muscle almost always swells. Swelling is the body's natural reaction to trauma. The body floods the injured area with fluids including antibodies, blood and lymph in an attempt to safeguard and heal the damaged area. Swelling can be detected very easily. Simply compare the affected arm with the uninjured arm.

Knots

When the body detects muscle damage, the surrounding muscles try to compensate and do its job. The problem is that the surrounding muscles are no designed to complete the tasks of the other muscle. This compensation happens due to a signal sent out by the brain for the other muscles to protect the damaged one. The result is a hardened area, known as a knot, that surrounds the damaged muscle.

Inability to Move

If you try to move your muscle and feel severe pain or if the muscle simply refuses to move, the muscle may be seriously torn or completely ruptured. A typical pulled muscle will result in the weakness of the muscle. A weakness can be described as the muscle having trouble performing simple tasks such as raising a glass of water or stretching to full length.

Treatment

According to Emedicinehealth.com, the best treatment for a pulled arm muscle is a regimen of rest, ice, compress and elevation. The muscle should stay rested so the body can heal it properly. This means no heavy lifting or anything else that can be strenuous on the arm. For ice, a reusable ice pack, disposable cold pack or a frozen package of vegetables can be used. Make sure the ice is wrapped in a towel before application. The ice is used to reduce swelling. For the compress, take a cloth bandage and wrap the muscle snug, but not too tight. This keeps the body from sending too much additional fluid to the area. For the elevation portion of the treatment, simply keep the muscle elevated over heart level as much as possible. In addition to the ice, this also reduces excess swelling.

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