Over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, can treat most pulled muscles, according to Healthline. Severe swelling or an inability to move the affected limb requires medical assistance.
In addition to anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle strains require rest, according to Healthline. A little movement or light stretching may help, but avoid strenuous activities until the injury heals. Ice is also important, especially in the first 24 to 48 hours after the injury. Apply ice for approximately 15 to 20 minutes at a time, with about 45 minutes in between each session. Use a towel or other barrier between the ice and skin to prevent damage.
Compression can also help treat muscle strains. Apply steady pressure to the affected area, but avoid cutting off circulation entirely. An elastic bandage is usually the more effective way to do this, reports Healthline. It also helps to keep the injured area elevated above the heart as much as possible. If the injury is in the leg, lie down and rest the injured leg on a pillow.
After the injury starts to heal, applying heat to the injured area may be more helpful than ice, according to MedlinePlus. Movement is also usually helpful at this stage.