A muscle strain pulled muscle is an overstretch or tear in your muscle fibres.
It can happen if you overstretch your muscle or you put too much force on it. Your muscles are made up of a band of fibres, which relax and tighten to make you move. You may strain a muscle if you stretch it beyond its normal comfortable range, or make it work too hard or too fast. Your symptoms should ease in a few days.
The longer your symptoms last, the worse your injury is likely to be. See our section: Grading of muscle strain, below for more information. If you hear a popping or snapping sound when you hurt yourself, this may be caused by a torn ligament or broken bone.
You should also seek medical help immediately if you have symptoms of a grade three strain. Physiotherapists grade muscle strains depending on how bad they are. Strains within each grade may also vary in how mild or severe they are.
This is a partial tear of your muscle part of the way through it. Grade two strains can also vary from milder strains to more sever ones. You can access a range of treatments on a pay as you go basis, including physiotherapy. There are lots of different ways to access physiotherapy — you may be able to refer yourself directly. A physiotherapist or GP will usually be able to diagnose a muscle strain just by examining you and asking questions. Your physiotherapist or GP may arrange for you to have an ultrasound or a magnetic resonance imaging MRI scan.
An ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image of the uk muscle talk of your body and an MRI scan uses magnets and radio waves. This will give your muscle a chance to heal and to protect it from any more damage. In the first 72 hours, you also need to avoid anything that could make your injury worse. It can help to remember these by using the HARM principle.
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For more information, click to open our HARM infographic. Always read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine and, if you have any questions, ask your pharmacist for advice. You can usually treat mild muscle strains at home. But sometimes you may need to see a physiotherapist or have an operation to repair your damaged muscle. It also depends on how active you need to be afterwards. It may take you a few weeks to be able to walk around as normal and it may take even longer for you to go back to sports. With a very bad strain, it may take months uk muscle talk you to recover completely.
To prevent another injury, warm up properly before you exercise. If your injury is very bad or it keeps coming back, physiotherapy may help to strengthen your damaged muscle. Your GP may refer you to a physiotherapist or you can book an appointment with a physiotherapist yourself.
You can also choose to see a physiotherapist privately. The physiotherapist will create a programme of exercises to gradually strengthen and stretch your muscles.
These exercises will depend on the type of injury you have and how bad it is. If your muscle strain is very bad, or your muscle has completely torn, you may need an operation to repair it. Your GP will arrange for you to see an orthopaedic surgeon who will explain which type of procedure you need. But you may be more likely to have a muscle strain if you:. This is particularly important as tired muscles are less able to support your ts well. You can read about ways to protect yourself from strains in Prevention of muscle strains below. You can do exercises to strengthen specific muscles in your body.
A physiotherapist can give you advice. Eccentric lengthening strength training has been shown to prevent muscle strains.
Do this for around five to 10 minutes. Stretching may help to make your muscles more flexible, but it depends on which type of stretching you do — and when.
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Different muscles need to be stretched for different amounts of time. Otherwise you could hurt yourself. But get some medical advice if:. If you have a very bad muscle strain, you should see a physiotherapist for advice. If your muscle has completely torn, it's important to get immediate medical help. Our short survey takes just a few minutes to complete and helps us to keep improving our health information. At Bupa we produce a wealth of free health information for you and your family.
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Back to top Menu. Expert reviewer, Declan Leonard, Physiotherapist Next review due August A muscle strain pulled muscle is an overstretch or tear in your muscle fibres. About muscle strain Your muscles are made up of a band of fibres, which relax and tighten to make you move.
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Symptoms of muscle strain Muscle strain symptoms vary, depending on how bad your injury is, but may include: pain tenderness when you touch the muscle swelling bruising — it can take up to 24 hours before the full bruise is visible weakness loss of movement Your symptoms should ease in a few days.
Grading of muscle strains Physiotherapists grade muscle strains depending on how bad they are. Grade one strain This causes slight damage to your muscle fibres. Your muscle may feel tender.
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You may have a bit of pain too. You should still have normal strength in your muscle, but you may find it too painful to carry on with your usual activities. Grade two strain This is a partial tear of your muscle part of the way through it. Your muscle is likely to be painful. You may have a noticeable bruise and swelling over the affected area.
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Grade three strain This is a full tear of your muscle all the way through it. Your muscle is usually really painful. You may have a lump at either end of your muscle. You may feel a popping sensation when you hurt your muscle.
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This grading can help your physiotherapist to choose the right treatment for you. Looking for physiotherapy? Protect your injury from further harm, for example by using a support. Optimal Loading.
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Remember to only do what feels comfortable and speak to a physiotherapist for further advice. Apply an ice pack or ice or frozen peas wrapped in a towel. Use for around 20 minutes roughly every two hours. Bandage your injury, but not too tightly.
Take the bandage off before going to sleep. Keep your injured muscle raised above the level of your heart. Avoiding HARM In the first 72 hours, you also need to avoid anything that could make your injury worse. This includes heat packs, hot water bottles and heat uk muscle talk, and saunas and hot baths. Running or any other form of exercise. Medicines for muscle strain If you need pain relief, you can use over-the-counter painkillers. In the first 48 hours, you can take paracetamol tablets or rub an ibuprofen cream or gel into your injured muscle. After the first 48 hours, you can take ibuprofen capsules or tablets.
Treatment of muscle strain You can usually treat mild muscle strains at home. Physiotherapy for muscle strain If your injury is very bad or it keeps coming back, physiotherapy may help to strengthen your damaged muscle. Surgery for muscle strain If your muscle strain is very bad, or your muscle has completely torn, you may need an operation to repair it.
Prevention of muscle strain To prevent muscle strains, take care when you exercise.