A muscle strain, also known as a pulled muscle, is a common muscle injury that occurs when a muscle is overstretched or torn. This type of injury can range from mild to severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the muscle.

Muscle strains typically occur as a result of overuse or sudden, intense physical activity. For example, a person may experience a muscle strain if they engage in activities that involve repeated movements or contractions of the affected muscle, such as running or weightlifting, without giving the muscle enough time to recover.

Symptoms of a muscle strain can vary depending on the severity of the injury. In mild cases, an individual may experience a tightness or discomfort in the affected muscle, along with some mild swelling and bruising. In more severe cases, the individual may feel a sharp pain in the muscle, along with a significant amount of swelling and bruising. In some cases, the individual may even be unable to put weight on the affected limb. 

Here are the classifications of muscle strains and their typical healing times:

  • Grade I: few stretched or torn muscle fibers, characterized by mild pain and tenderness with very little, if any, loss of muscular strength. Typical healing times can vary anywhere from 1-4 weeks.
  • Grade II: moderate stretched or torn muscle fibers, characterized by moderate to severe pain and tenderness with mild swelling, noticeable bruising, loss of muscle strength and pain with movement of injured muscle group. Typical healing times can vary from 6-12 weeks. 
  • Grade III: complete tear of muscle fibers into two separate pieces or complete separation from the tendon, characterized by significant pain, swelling, tenderness, bruising, and complete loss of muscle function. Due to the nature of the complete tear, Grade III strains may also present with an obvious gap or dent underneath the torn pieces. Surgical reattachment is usually warranted with lengthy healing times ranging from 6-12 months depending on the muscle group and location of the tear.

In all 3 grades of muscle strains, Physical Therapy treatment is crucial and typically involves a combination of manual therapy and therapeutic exercise prescription to promote tissue healing, prevent range of motion limitations, and build muscle strength to regain function and decrease future injury risk.

Preventing muscle strains can be as simple as properly warming up before physical activity and allowing enough time for recovery between workouts. It is also important to build a proper foundation in strength and the use of proper technique during physical activities to reduce the risk of a muscle strain.

If you want to learn more, schedule a FREE 30 Minute Session with Genry Piletsky, DPT to discuss potential treatment options! Book a Move Better with Genry visit today!