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The SpineA strain occurs when a muscle or a tendon is injured. The injury can be a stretching or a pull of the muscle or tendon, or it can be a tear. Tendons connect muscle to the bones.

Athletes are particularly at risk for strains. One of the most likely places for strains, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), is the back. (Read about "The Spine") The other common place for strains is the hamstring muscles, on the back of your thighs. (Read about "Feet, Ankles and Legs") Other areas can also be at risk. For example, elbow strains show up in people who participate in racquet sports. (Read about "Tendinitis and Bursitis")


A strain can be either acute or chronic. An acute strain can be the result of a sudden movement, a blow or lifting a heavy object. (Read about "Avoid Back Pain" "Back Tips")

Chronic strains usually are the result of overuse of the muscles and tendons. The symptoms according to NIAMS include:

Movement of the muscle becomes very difficult and painful.


After checking with your doctor, treatment for minor strains can often be accomplished at home using the RICE method, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). The goal of the treatment is to reduce swelling and pain. RICE treatment, according to NIAMS and ACEP consists of:

Your doctor may also recommend over-the-counter or even prescription anti-inflammatories to help you manage the swelling and the pain. (Read about "Medicine Safety")

Rehabilitation (Read about "Rehabilitation") involves strengthening the muscles and tendons and stretching them appropriately.


Prevention starts long before an injury occurs. A healthy diet and exercise program, in consultation with your doctor, can strengthen your muscles and tendons so they are less likely to be injured. (Read about "Getting Started on Fitness") NIAMS lists some other things such as:

Strains happen even if you take every precaution but with a little care, they can be less severe and not turn into chronic problems.

Related Information:

    The Knee

    Marfan Syndrome

    Exercise and Seniors

    Senior Home Safety

    Back Pain

All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.

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By printing and/or reading this article, you agree that you accept all terms and conditions of use, as specified online.