Home Treatment for Muscle Strains and Sprains

If you are active, you probably have strained or sprained a muscle at least once.

Image of a man straining to open a pickle jar


  • A muscle strain is caused by overstretching or tearing a muscle or a tendon. Tendons link muscles to bones. This type of injury is also called a pulled muscle.
  • A muscle sprain is a stretched or torn ligament. Ligaments are bands of fibrous tissue that connect bones to bones at joints.


  • If you strain a muscle or tendon, you are likely to feel acute pain while using the muscle and a dull ache at other times. You may experience spasms or swelling at the site.
  • If you have sprained a ligament, you are likely to feel acute pain at the time of the injury, lessening into soreness. There may be swelling or bruising.


Since first and second-degree injuries go unreported, there’s no way to assess the numbers of sprains and strains in the population. Many! They can happen to anyone easily enough—not just athletes. Step off a curb the wrong way and you have a sprained ankle.


There are degrees of sprains and strains. If your injury is severe enough that you have very limited range of motion, or if you cannot put weight on a joint and have a lot of swelling with intense pain, you may need an x-ray or MRI to determine if you have broken bones. You may need a cast for stabilization during the healing process and possibly physical therapy later on. If your injury is not severe, there are things you can do at home to support the healing process.


RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is the first thing to apply to a first or second-degree strain or sprain.) If you have injured a limb, keep it elevated (higher than your heart, while resting, applying ice intermittently and wrapping lightly with a bandage). You can apply ice for 10-15 minutes every hour for a couple of days. Do not apply ice directly to the skin. After a couple days, you can alternate warm and cold treatments.


Eat an anti-inflammatory diet


  • Eat more coconut oil.
  • Blackstrap Molasses (you can mix this with ACV, honey and water and drink regularly. Caution: high in iron so not good for people with an overload of iron.
  • Pineapple, eaten for anti-inflammation properties (bromelain)
  • Raw onions for its anti-inflammatory sulfur compounds.
  • Hot spicy mustard and curry for anti-inflammation
  • Rosemary for anti-inflammation properties
  • Foods that are rich in the following:


  • Sesame oil with pepper powder, heated
  • Basil, marjoram or roman chamomile for spasms
  • Make your own ointment with powdered ginger and olive oil, equal parts. For inflammation.
  • Cayenne pepper powder and warmed olive oil applied to the injury
  • Mustard or turmeric powder and olive oil for a poultice to combat inflammation
  • Apply lettuce to the site, topically, for the calming effects of lactucin. Wrap a bandage over the lettuce loosely and change the poultice when it warms up.
  • Hot chili peppers and cayenne pepper powder for anti-inflammatory capsaicin


Not all essential oils should be applied directly to skin; a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil should be used. Since it may not be advisable to use undiluted essential oils for very long, or to use very much, it’s safer and easier to use a carrier oil with all essential oils

  • Lavender at the site of the injury
  • Use clove for anti-inflammation
  • Lemongrass with peppermint and marjoram for cramping
  • Comfrey as a gentle massage treatment for pain
  • Thyme


  • Magnesium oil for leg cramps (no need for carrier oils)
  • Arnica balm or ointment
  • Horse chestnut gel
  • Increase Vitamin C intake.
  • Increase lean protein to rebuild muscle.
  • Supplement with Omega 3’s for anti-inflammation.
  • Take magnesium as a supplement or eat more magnesium-rich foods (molasses, squash, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, black beans, sesame seeds, cocoa powder, swiss chard, spinach).
  • Take a couple tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar in water every day.
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Copper
  • Zinc


If possible, you can soak the injured part in warm water, which may relieve pain. Add a cup or two of Epsom salts to your bath water as a muscle relaxant (contraindicated for those with heart conditIons, high blood pressure or diabetes).


  • There are several Homeopathic remedies that treat muscle pain; the most common is Arnica Montana. Choose the one is the best match for your symptoms.   Do a search for Homeopathic Treatments for Muscle Strain or Sprain.
  • Acupuncture


  • Pay special attention to injuries to fragile body parts, such as ankles and wrists. Visit a medical professional to determine if there is a fracture.
  • Call 911
    • if you cannot walk or otherwise get safely to a doctor.
    • If you have pain, fever or bleeding.