Muscle Tear|Types|Treatment|Recovery Period|Causes|Symptoms (2023)

Muscle tearsor muscle strain denotes damage to a muscle and its attached tendons caused by any undue or accidental pressure. Such tear or strain of the muscle may take place at any moment during day-to-day activities, while playing or during any other occasions. Extent of damage from a muscle tear depends on the pressure released on the muscle by any external source or through any activity. In some instances, part or whole of the muscle fibers are affected, while in severe cases the tendons attached with the muscle also get damaged. Again in many instances, the damage may be as severe as causing bleeding or bruising and irritation due to damaged nerves. Muscle tear can happen in any part of the body, but records show that common people are mostly affected by muscle tear in neck, lower back, shoulder and hamstrings.

Muscle Tear|Types|Treatment|Recovery Period|Causes|Symptoms (1)



Types of Muscle Tears

According to the severity, muscle tear are categorized into three grades:

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  • Grade 1 Muscle Tear: In this stage, micro-tears are caused due to any external injury and the person apparently doesn’t face any functional problem. It is caused by minor trauma leading to soreness in the affected area.
  • Grade 2 Muscle Tear: Partial tear to the muscle is categorized as grade 2 muscle tear or muscle strain. In this condition functionality of the muscle is disturbed to a large extent. Muscle pain and soreness become more intensive than normally bearable.
  • Grade 3 Muscle Tear: In this condition, muscle is fully ruptured causing severe pain and bleeding. In grade 3 stage, condition goes beyond natural recovery and needs medical attention.

It is tough to diagnose the harshness of a muscle tear or strain primarily. Functional tests can evaluate the possibility of activation of a muscle, which is really helpful to determine the extent of injury; however, depending on the situation other diagnostic processes are advised by the doctors.

Symptoms of Muscle Tear


Various symptoms involved in muscle tear or strain are as follows:

  • Sudden feeling of pain
  • Aching
  • Swelling
  • Pain while moving that particular body part
  • Limitation in body movements
  • Spasm
  • Stiffness
  • Either reddishness or faded look of the affected part
  • Weakness in the affected muscle.

Patients show different symptoms in mild and severe muscle tear depending on the grade of injury. In case of mild tear, patients can move the affected body part with some pain and sometimes feel no pain at all, while in severe situations the movement becomes very restricted and patients feel the pain continuously. The symptoms of acute muscle tear normally go away with time or with some medications and physiotherapy. On the other hand, chronic muscle tear issues take months and complex medical treatment to heal. Sometimes, patients need to undergo surgeries to start normal activities once again following a severe muscle tear.

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Causes of Muscle Tear

Muscle tear mostly occurs due to injuries or trauma1, however in many instances wrong posture, normal walking, exercising or climbing up stairs may cause this problem. It’s a matter of muscles’ withstanding capacity to external pressures that determines its ability to cope with an external pressure. In some situations, like right after exercise or hard labor, muscles remain in very gentle condition, which means chance of getting tear is high at those moments.



Some common causes of acute muscle tear are as follows –

  • Poor flexibility of the muscles
  • Over exercising or hard labor
  • Fatigue
  • Wrong body posture.

Sometimes, sportsmen don’t warm up sufficiently before a game where muscles are used intensively like in football or tennis, which leads to muscle tear.

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Some unintentional activities, as mentioned below frequently cause muscle tear –



  • Slip
  • Sudden fall from a height
  • Jumping with the help of body weight or throwing any weighty object
  • Lifting any heavy article
  • Sudden movement while in awkward position.

People often complain of muscle strain while walking on an uneven footpath or catching a bus or train in hurry. Certain weather conditions may lead to muscle tear, as it happens during colder seasons when muscles become very stiff or during very hot seasons when body loses water and minerals making the muscles weak and tender.

Chronic cases of muscle tear are mostly noticed in sportspeople who are involved in games like football, cricket, weight lifting, cycling, rowing, baseball etc. Employees working in offices sitting in a wrong posture or students who need to use tables and chairs for prolonged hours are often diagnosed with chronic muscle tear or strain.

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Treatment for Muscle Tear

Person with muscle tear should visit a doctor if home remedies for muscle tear are not providing him or her any remarkable respite even after 24 hours. People often misjudge the intensity of damage and neglect the problem with a hope that it will be remedied naturally. In fact, the pain or other symptoms go on disturbing normal activities over the months and even years. If not taken care of in time, muscle tear or strain can create permanent damage to the muscle and ligaments. So, people are always 1advised to take the issue to an expert in this field.

  • First Aid for Muscle Tear: First aid has a very important role in the treatment and recovery of muscle tear. Experts opine that, if the affected muscles are provided first aid within 15 minutes of occurrence of any accident or injury, many smaller muscle tear issues are recovered within a few days. Here are some commonly advised first aid treatments or home remedies for muscle tear –
    • Application of ice immediately after an injury leading to muscle tear minimizes swelling and decreases pain to a great extent.
    • Sufficient rest is to be given to the affected muscle. It will help the muscular tissues to treat the damaged cells with their own auto-immune system. However, prolonged rest may weaken the muscles. So, bodily movements should be started soon without giving much tension to the muscles.
    • Treatment for muscle tear involving Compression may be needed if the swelling is too visible. Compression with the help of elastic bandage is always the best way to lessen the swelling.
    • Whenever possible, the affected muscle should be elevated at the level of heart for a few minutes. It will provide strength to the muscle and ease the blood circulation.
  • Other Useful Self-care Methods: Apart from first aid, there are some other home remedies to get rid of minor muscle tears. These are:
    • Over the counter medicines such as ibuprofen and naproxen are very useful to mitigate primary pain and inflammation associated with muscle tear, so those can be used at the beginning along with first aid.
    • Hot pack treatment for muscle tear at least 5 times a day helps to ease blood circulation and muscular movements.
    • Proper rest and care while moving or working is necessary, but at the same time muscles should be used normally after three days of getting an injury in the event of minor muscle tear. Stretching up the muscles as much as possible will be very beneficial, nut this has to be done only in the recovery phase.
  • Medical Treatment for Muscle Tear: If home remedies for muscle tear are not working effectively, or the pain is unbearable, it is practicable to visit an expert. There are certain procedure doctors follow while investigating the extent of damage caused to the muscle. Certain pathological and imaging tests like X-ray and MRI are done followed by certain treatment procedure including physiotherapy, medications and rest.

Recovery Period of Muscle Tear

Recovery from muscle tear or strain completely depends on the level of injury. In case of Grade 1 type of muscle tear, it takes 1-7 days to recover; in case of Grade 2 type of muscle tear patients take a few weeks to a few months to recover and they may need medical care from an expert; whereas, in case of Grade 3 type of muscle tear patients may need to undergo regular physiotherapy for some months or in some cases they may need to be operated for ruptured muscles and tendons and recovery period in this case will be very long.


Muscle tear shouldn’t be taken lightly. If pain or swelling associated with muscle tear is not receding even after trying all possible kinds of home remedies, it is better to take medical advice for the same. In some situations, recovery may take much time with prolonged treatment including continuous physiotherapy, but patients and their families need to be patient enough to follow doctor’s advice very strictly. People in general are also needed to be a bit cautious while accomplishing daily activities. People who perform exercises and sportspeople should practice under expert supervision so that muscles don’t get unexpected pressures. As a whole, muscle tears are quite common occurrences; medical science has come up with many treatment procedures and guidelines which can help to recover from muscle tear or muscle stain quickly.


Also Read:

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  • Muscle Tear: Types, Treatment, Recovery Period, Causes, Symptoms
  • Leg Muscle Tear or Injury: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Recovery Period, Prevention


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How much time does it take to heal muscle tear? ›

Those with muscle injuries that do not require surgical treatment are generally able to recover and resume normal activities within two to eight weeks.

How do you know if a muscle tear is serious? ›

Torn muscles are categorized by the severity of the injury: mild which is a simple strain affecting 5% of a muscle's fibers; moderate which is up to 25%-30% and accompanied by swelling, decreased range of motion and pain; and severe which is an actual tear in a muscle that is accompanied by extensive swelling.

What does a complete muscle tear feel like? ›

Swelling, bruising, or redness due to the injury. Pain at rest. Pain when the specific muscle or the joint in relation to that muscle is used. Weakness of the muscle or tendons.

What checks for muscle tears? ›

An MRI is the best type of imaging for looking at tissue. Your physician may order an MRI on the damaged muscle to find or learn more about your injury. This type of muscle tear imaging can pinpoint the location of even the smallest muscle strains and determine whether a partial or complete strain has occurred.

Does a torn muscle ever fully recover? ›

After this inflammatory phase, the muscle begins to heal by regenerating muscle fibers from stem cells that live around the area of injury. However, a significant amount of scar tissue also forms where the muscle was injured. Over time, this scar tissue remodels, but the muscle tissue never fully regenerates.

Is it good to exercise a torn muscle? ›

The most important thing you can do for a pulled muscle is resting it. Even if it's light stretching, continuing to stress a pulled muscle could result in further damage to muscle and a much longer healing time.

What helps muscle tears heal faster? ›

  • Rest. Avoid activities that cause pain, swelling or discomfort. ...
  • Ice. Even if you're seeking medical help, ice the area immediately. ...
  • Compression. To help stop swelling, compress the area with an elastic bandage until the swelling stops. ...
  • Elevation.
Oct 11, 2022

Can you make a muscle tear worse? ›

Playing through your injury or returning to work after an accident without seeking medical attention ultimately worsens it. Your muscles don't heal correctly and the rest of your body has to compensate for the weakened area. This aspect can result in additional strain, overuse injuries or fractures.

Do all muscle tears require surgery? ›

A large portion of muscle injuries, even many tears, can be treated conservatively without the need for surgery. This includes rest, ice, compression, elevation, over-the-counter medication and physical therapy. However, in some cases especially a completely torn muscle, patients require surgical repair.

What is the most common muscle to tear? ›

Like a muscle strain, the most common muscle tears occur in the lower back, neck, shoulder, and hamstring. Muscle tears often cause a sudden onset of severe pain, as well as bruising, swelling, and weakness.

What is a Stage 2 muscle tear? ›

Grading muscle tears

Grade 2: With a grade 2 tear you've torn a significant number of muscle fibres and there is usually quite a bit of swelling and bruising as well. You may have pain even when you're lying down or sitting still and it is usually quite painful when you try and use the muscle.

Should you massage a muscle tear? ›

But severely injured muscles, such as muscles that have been torn, frequently require treatment involving medication and invasive surgeries, and recovery can take a long time. However, recent research suggests that something as simple as massaging the injury site can speed up healing.

How do physical therapy treat muscle tears? ›

The initial approach to Physical Therapy of your muscle strain will depend on how long after your injury that you seek treatment. The immediate line of defense straight after a muscle strain should be the application of ice and compression, followed by rest and elevation for the affected muscle.

What helps repair muscle tissue? ›

Vitamins for Muscle Recovery
  • Protein-rich foods. Protein is an important building block for many tissues in your body, including muscle. ...
  • Fiber-rich foods. ...
  • 3. Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C. ...
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. ...
  • Zinc-rich foods. ...
  • Vitamin D- and calcium-rich foods. ...
  • Creatine. ...
  • Glucosamine.

What doctor treats muscle pain? ›

Often muscle pain is treated by rheumatologists but osteopaths specialize in the muscle/skeletal system and there are kinesiologist and chiropracters in the alternative health fields.

Can a torn muscle hurt for years? ›

Even a small muscular injury can lead to a chronic pain pattern which persists for months or even years, because the nervous “system stays on alert,” waiting for the scar tissue to heal completely and become aligned with the surrounding muscle tissue.

Do torn muscles heal naturally? ›

Most people can recover by resting their muscle and using at-home treatments like ice and over-the-counter medicine. If you're feeling pain for a few weeks after your injury or have severe symptoms, see your healthcare provider.

Is stretching good for a torn muscle? ›

Don't stretch!

While it may seem counterintuitive, stretching a strained muscle only makes it worse. Your best bet involves avoiding any movement that agitates the affected area and continue to rest until the pain subsides.

Does ibuprofen help heal muscle strains? ›

No, in most cases anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen or naproxen) don't help healing. In fact, in some cases it may even delay healing.

What foods promote muscle healing? ›

Foods that help muscle recovery
  • Cottage cheese. ...
  • Sweet potato. ...
  • Watermelon. ...
  • Salmon. ...
  • Eggs. ...
  • Spinach. ...
  • Bananas. ...
  • Nuts and seeds.
Jan 30, 2020

Is heat good for a muscle tear? ›

A pulled muscle should first be treated using the R.I.C.E. method. During the first 72 hours, heat should be avoided to prevent increased swelling and inflammation. After about 72 hours, heat can be incorporated into treatment to increase blood flow and aid the overall healing process.

Can muscle tear heal in a week? ›

Muscle tears will heal within six week unless they are very severe. Non-structural muscle strains can recover even sooner as they are usually just muscle spasm. The first few weeks are a vulnerable time for your body as it repairs.

Do muscles tear to get bigger? ›

By lifting weights, you are actually causing tiny tears (known as “micro-tears”) in the muscle fibers, which the body then repairs and adapts the muscles to better handle the stimulus that caused the damage. This is the process by which muscles grow (scientifically termed hypertrophy).

What causes muscles to tear easily? ›

When dystrophin levels are low, the membranes around muscle cells become weak. They tear easily.

What does a Grade 1 muscle tear feel like? ›

A Grade 1 strain is a minor strain. You've overstretched a muscle or tendon and may have the beginning of a tear. You may feel stiff, but you can still use the arm, leg, or other part of your body that has sustained the injury.

What does a grade 3 muscle tear feel like? ›

Grade III (severe) strains represent the complete rupture of the muscle. This means either the tendon is separated from the muscle belly or the muscle belly is actually torn in 2 parts. Severe swelling and pain and a complete loss of function are characteristic of this type of strain.

What is a Grade 3 muscle tear? ›

Grade III. Severe pain, and disability; severe swelling, ecchymosis, hematoma; palpable defect and loss of muscle function; muscle or tendon rupture.

Do protein shakes help with torn muscles? ›

Previous research has shown that protein can ease soreness, speed up recovery, and help repair the muscles that are torn during weightlifting. Plus, one review of nearly 50 studies found that protein supplementation greatly enhanced muscle strength and size during resistance training.

Do steroids help with muscle tears? ›

Anabolic steroids may aid in the healing of muscle contusion injury to speed the recovery of force-generating capacity.

Why do muscle tears take so long to heal? ›

When you strain a muscle, you tear some of the muscle fibers. The more fibers you tear, the more serious your injury is and the longer it will take to recover. The strain may also affect your tendon and the research has shown that any muscle injury where the tendon has also torn usually takes a lot longer to heal.

What is the best supplement for muscle tear? ›

Vitamins C and E

Consuming vitamin C and vitamin E offers benefits for treating and preventing muscle tears. After muscle tissue damage, your muscle tissue undergoes remodeling to repair the tears. Vitamin C helps you produce the collagen needed for this remodeling process.

What vitamin is good for tissue repair? ›

Vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc help your body to repair tissue damage, fight infections, and keep your skin healthy. Try to eat foods from the lists below. Vitamin A is found in animal foods and some brightly coloured vegetables and fruits. Many vegetables and fruits are high in vitamin C.

Does B12 help muscle repair? ›

B Vitamins (B6, Folate & B12)

Another interesting fact is that vitamin B6 is needed to support the absorption of vitamin B12. Together, these B vitamins are essential in the production of red blood cells and immune system cells, both of which are invaluable to muscle growth and repair.

What medical condition causes muscle pain? ›

Fibromyalgia. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) Influenza (flu) and other viral illness (influenza-like illness) Lupus.

Is there a test for muscle pain? ›

A CK test is most often used to diagnose and monitor muscular injuries and diseases.

What is the fastest way to heal a torn muscle? ›

Read on for seven tips for muscle injury recovery that will speed up or improve your recovery.
  1. Stay Hydrated. ...
  2. Reduce Inflammation With Cherry Juice. ...
  3. Increase or Improve Sleep. ...
  4. Compress the Affected Muscle. ...
  5. Switch to Low-Impact Exercise During Injury Recovery. ...
  6. Up Your Protein Intake. ...
  7. Limit Alcohol and/or Tobacco Consumption.
May 15, 2021

How do I heal a torn muscle? ›

approach — rest, ice, compression, elevation:
  1. Rest. Avoid activities that cause pain, swelling or discomfort. ...
  2. Ice. Even if you're seeking medical help, ice the area immediately. ...
  3. Compression. To help stop swelling, compress the area with an elastic bandage until the swelling stops. ...
  4. Elevation.
Oct 11, 2022

Do muscle tears go away? ›

After a muscle tear, the damaged fibres slowly begin to heal and reattach to each other. This process can be quite fragile and during the early stages, aggressive stretching of recovering tissue can impair healing or even lead to more tearing.

Can a muscle tear get worse? ›

Playing through your injury or returning to work after an accident without seeking medical attention ultimately worsens it. Your muscles don't heal correctly and the rest of your body has to compensate for the weakened area. This aspect can result in additional strain, overuse injuries or fractures.

How big is a Grade 2 muscle tear? ›

Table 6
Grade of injuryDefinition symptoms
Grade 2: Moderate muscle tears
2a: Extend from fascia, 10–50% cross-section area, 5–15 cmLess strength reduction
2b: Muscle or MTJ involvement, 10–50% cross-section area, 5–15 cmStrength reduction
2c: Tendon involvement, <50% cross-section areaLoss of tendon tension
14 more rows
Jun 13, 2016

What does a Grade 2 muscle strain feel like? ›

Grade II strain.

This is a moderate strain, with a greater number of injured fibers and more severe muscle pain and tenderness. There is also mild swelling, noticeable loss of strength and sometimes a bruise.


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