Pain is commonly associated with a pulled muscle. That is because the actual pull (or strain) occurs when muscle fibers and tissues are overstretched and damaged. Pain will be present as soon as you pull a muscle. If you apply pressure directly to a pulled muscle, the pain will be especially acute. It might feel like the muscle is being jabbed with a sharp object.
A pulled muscle feels stiff and can be difficult--and painful--to move. The muscle itself will feel hard. Oftentimes, the pain associated with trying to move the muscle will limit the amount that you can move it.
It is common for pulled muscles to be swollen. That is especially true in cases of significant strains or pulls, since the muscle or tendon likely is ruptured or torn and is bleeding. Swelling is caused by local fluid buildup.
Because strains or pulls are the result of damage to muscles or tendons, which can cause bleeding, bruising of the skin above the affected area is commonly associated with the injuries.
When to Call the Doctor
Whether or not a pulled muscle requires medical attention depends upon the severity of the injury. If the area of the strain swells quickly or is especially painful, golfers should seek immediate medical help. If the strain is less severe and those conditions are not present, but the pain, swelling and stiffness does not start to feel better within 48 to 72 hours, it is a good idea to seek medical help.
Care of the Injury
The Mayo Clinic recommends dealing with strains via the PRICE approach--protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation. When a pulled muscle occurs, it should be iced as soon as possible. Icing the area should take place for the first few days, last for 15 to 20 minutes and be repeated every 2 to 3 hours. The injury also should be compressed with an elastic bandage, but not too tight as to cut off circulation. Compression helps avoid swelling. Elevating the injured area above the level of the heart, if possible, also helps reduce swelling. The injured area also should be immobilized to prevent further injury. This can be done with an elastic wrap or sling, for example. Finally, rest the area of the muscle pull and avoid activities, including golf, that cause pain or discomfort. Doing so will help it heal as quickly as possible.
If pain and discomfort do not decrease after a few days, it is a good idea to call a doctor, who can check for muscle damage. If the doctor finds no muscle damage, you can resume golfing once it is no longer painful to swing a club.